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A plea for better audience metrics

“One- or two-time visitors are not a business opportunity — they are an accident.”

This is more a wish list than a set of predictions: business developments I’d like to see in legacy media in 2014 (but I’m not holding my breath).


  • Ditch uniques and develop a better metric. Then-Newspaper Association of America president Mark Contreras was right when he made this case four years ago. It still hasn’t happened. One- or two-time visitors are not a business opportunity — they are an accident.
  • Make mobile revenues more than a rounding error. The audience has arrived; accompanying advertising has not. Maybe the big boys like Google, Facebook, and Twitter cannot be caught. But the clock is ticking on building some sort of revenue template.
  • Exploit journalism capacity as a strategic advantage. Sure, lots of news is commodified. And hats off to BuzzFeed, Upworthy, et al. for inventing a shareable content model for the massive social media market. But newspapers and local television stations will do better not to ape what’s hot — but to play instead from the strength of generating acts of journalism large and small relevant to their local communities.
  • For newspapers, get the lines to cross. Subscription revenue, digital marketing and advertising and “other” revenue need to exceed continuing ad revenue losses. Otherwise the industry will still be heading backward – and it may well be in 2014 and 2015.

Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for The Poynter Institute.

Updating regularly through Friday, December 20