Learning the Art of Listening in a Turbulent World

This article is by Robin Re, Vice President of Marketing at Industry Dive

As a business journalism company that serves some of the world’s most vibrant industries, Industry Dive has to take a deeper look at every user interaction to understand what interests our audiences the most. We compile a lot of visitor data, but know metrics can be misleading. It’s not enough for us to count clicks and conclude that a particular topic is popular with readers. We need to measure engagement, because engaged readers become subscribers, and advertisers want to reach loyal, invested audiences, not a bunch of random visitors.

Understanding how much time a reader spends on an article, whether they take an action (such as subscribing to the newsletter or registering for an event) as a result of reading the article, or continue to read more stories on the same subject, all factor into understanding a reader’s real level of engagement.

When we started using Lytics, we didn’t see it as an analytics tool. We saw it as a listening tool: pivotal in filtering out the noise to hear what readers really tell us through their behavior. If the readers we target show high engagement with a particular topic, that tells our journalists and marketers to create and serve more content around that subject.

But as is the nature of news, plans and priorities shift quickly. As news unfolds and readers’ needs change, so do advertisers. Marketing budgets were impacted by COVID-19 and we needed to quickly react to meet the needs of our readers and our advertisers. We knew we needed to prove to our advertisers that continuing to spend with Industry Dive would be in their best interest as their target audience continued to come to our sites and in increasing numbers.

Starting in March, we saw a massive surge in interest around COVID-19. If we wrote an article about coronavirus vaccines in BioPharma Dive, for example, it would get tens of thousands of pageviews every day . But we couldn’t tell if it was good traffic, as defined by our advertisers and our subscribers, i.e., someone who worked in the pharmaceutical industry—or just people from the general population who were interested in anything related to the coronavirus. We weren’t about to throw out our editorial strategy which is to serve targeted industry leaders and advertisers, and just chase clicks.

Lytics let us look deeper into those interactions and we discovered that, yes, COVID-19 was a longer-term news trend of great interest to our targets readers, and therefore to advertisers. In fact, within a week, we gathered enough behavioral data from Lytics to show specific advertisers that running digital and native ads next to coronavirus-related articles would reach exactly the kind of engaged audience they were seeking.

In late May and early June as racial conversations dominated the news, Smart Cities Dive covered how local governments responded to protests and HR Dive examined renewed attention on diversity and inclusion policies. We used Lytics to listen for opportunities to share this content with engaged readers across our other publications. Because we have a collaborative newsroom, leveraging our journalistic efforts across 23 publications increases the volume and value of our content—qualities we can measure with Lytics.

Now more than ever, readers need news they can use. We want to have a two-way conversation with our audiences, and actually give them a voice in the editorial decisions we make every day. For us, it’s not just about having the right data and the right data science—Lytics gives us the write data and the write data science to keep our readers informed and engaged.