James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions
We recently conducted an independent review of 33 agricultural company websites. I know you hate surprises so here’s a link to the report – but make sure to come back to the article to see how and why we did this, and more important, what you can do with it.
Fair, objective, and consistent. When I worked for an ag publisher, I routinely pulled comparative web metrics and presented them to clients. Most if not all publishers provided similar metrics, and while they weren’t intentionally biased, clients rightfully viewed them with suspicion. In addition to the “We’re number-one bias,” each publisher used different tools and methodologies to generate the results, so it was impossible to compare reports from different sources to find anything close to a true representation of web activity.
Here’s the beauty of the report you just reviewed. Rooster is a consultancy – which means we have no dog in this fight. The numbers are the numbers. And because we used the same tools and measurements for all the sites we reviewed – more on this later – you can trust that it’s accurate and allows you to compare sites fairly.
Context is important. Numbers don’t lie – but they can be misunderstood if you don’t have the full story. That’s why we added some background and color to the report, to give you a more-accurate picture of what’s happening and what you should look for in the future. For instance, look at the significant rise in the number of views at Hoards.com (page 6). An 82-percent jump in views is more than impressive – it’s highly unlikely without significant infrastructure changes or web promotion that we haven’t observed. This makes us believe it’s an anomaly. Perhaps next quarter’s report will show continued increases, in which case I’ll gladly eat crow … but I doubt it.
Use these reports to build a record. I mentioned above that next quarter’s report might alter my diet. The important part of this sentence for you is “next quarter’s report.” Yes, we plan to make this reporting an ongoing activity, and we will continue to share the results free of charge. Granted, we’ll share them with our clients first, along with considerably more in the way of context and sophisticated metrics – that’s only fair – but you can look for a report-out on Q3 in early August.
How can you use these? They’re fun to look at, but do they have any real value? Yes, and this value increases with each new report. You can and should build an ongoing record of how your web pages are performing and how they perform against competitors. As you introduce new tactics, measure any incremental gains against competitive gains to form a more-accurate measurement of your success. Advertisers can and should use these to compare publishers. While page views aren’t the only metric you should consider when you’re evaluating a website, it’s an excellent starting point – and now you have an apples-to-apples comparison to use.
Looking for more details? That’s understandable. The hard part of a report like this is the more you look at it, the more questions it raises. That’s why we provide our clients with a smorgasbord of options, from a one-time web audit to a comprehensive ongoing analysis. If you want to dig deeper, I’d love to have a conversation.