From unique visits to attention minutes to video views, there was a lot of talk about numbers in newsrooms this year.
As someone who spends most of his day buried in those numbers, trying to make sure they are reliable and useable for publishers, I think a lot of those conversations will continue in 2016, but there will be a few key developments.
First, I think that the data provided by social platforms is only going to get better, and the role of platforms in both distributing and discovering news is only going to increase. And despite a lot of understandable anxiety about the overall dynamic, I’m bullish that major social platforms will prove they are and want to be great partners for newsrooms.
Second, there will continue to be a huge gap when it comes to comparing reach metrics across social media platforms. I think that will force a conversation around whether it’s possible to create any industry standards around social.
Third, newsrooms will start to see more and more traffic being driven by private messaging apps. I think it will reaching a tipping point this year that will force a conversation about what data and analytics can be made available from those networks.
Finally, for some of the new, independent publishers (but I hope for more legacy ones as well), I think this year is going to see discussion about an entirely new metric in the media space: impact. Jonah Peretti is already talking about how their stories actually affect reader behavior, including around eating healthy or exercising more. The folks at Upworthy have long talked about using stories to make their readers more empathetic. The team at ProPublica spend a lot of time thinking about the communities that exist before and after they publish certain pieces. The question will no longer be limited to who is consuming their content and how are they doing it…but to what end.