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Longtime Lijit publisher Kurt Kohlstedt is the Founder and Executive Editor of Webist Publishing and Misnamed Media. His collection of sites include WebUrbanist, WebEcoist, Dornob, and Gajitz – which each have their own theme relating to creative, innovative, and sustainable art, architecture, and design.
Kurt is the quintessential mid-size Lijit publisher who has used online advertising to successfully transition his hobby into a business. Read on to learn how Kurt got his start and how he built his business using analytics and online advertising.
How did you get your start in the world of online publishing?
I was finishing my graduate degree in architecture and slowly began to realize that I was equally interested (if not more) in writing about design as I was in becoming an architecture professional. It was at that point I decided to give online publishing a shot as a full-time career. I built an audience by testing out various topics and found a nice balance between what I liked to write about and what people liked to read. I launched my first site, WebUrbanist, in the middle of 2007.
One of the core pillars at Lijit is a fundamental belief in providing online publishers with “actionable analytics.” We use the term “actionable analytics” to describe the concept of giving publishers access to meaningful, easy-to-understand data that can be used to better engage your readers, grow your website, and make more money. It’s data that publishers can take action on.
This week we are rolling out a brand new, completely revamped weekly stats email that provides publishers with highlights on site performance and other relevant data. Every publisher using Lijit’s tools and services – whether it’s our ad services, analytics, or reader engagement tools (site search, reader widgets, etc.) – receives a weekly email customized to the type of tools and services deployed.
Only interested in ad services? Your weekly email focuses on what you care about – ad performance and revenue. Interested in advertising but still want analytics about your site’s audience? Your email has the best of both worlds because it combines ad performance statistics with audience data to give you a 360 degree view of your site. Layer on top any of our reader engagement tools and you also receive search and reader data to help you learn about your audience and keep them on-site longer. The more tools and services you have, the more data we provide!
The new weekly stats email complements your existing publisher dashboard, which contains more detailed information for publishers to drill down into specifics on ad performance, audience statistics, and search behavior.
Check your inbox this Sunday night and please send us your feedback!
Lijit has a strong local connection to the start-up tech scene in Boulder, CO; but we also support the great artists who live here and blog too. One such artist is Steve Lowtwait and right now he has just started on painting a very large scenic panting of Boulder for Whole Food’s recently renovated store.
Steve commented that he needed a t-shirt or two from some local startups and Lijit was happy to oblige. We meet up as he was getting the first coat of paint down with a long ways to go. Now he can get down and dirty with local pride. Stop bye Whole Foods in Boulder and see the progress as it comes together over the next few weeks or check it out as he blogs it.
As a marketer, I’ve used Google Analytics for years. The problem with Google Analytics is that it provides too much information… so much that very few people know what to do with it all. It often comes up in conversation with our publishers, and they all agree.
Lijit’s goal is to provide an easy-to-use alternative to Google Analytics so we held a roundtable discussion with 15 publishers to learn about the most beneficial data for their site. Everyone agreed that “actionable analytics” are what’s important. Publishers don’t want or need every last detail about their website and traffic. What they do need is relevant data they can use to grow their site and make more money.
The premise: the more you know about your audience, the more you can tailor your content to meet their needs. This engages your audience which helps increase pageviews and grow traffic. The more traffic to your site, the more money you can make from online advertising.
We have recently done a lot of work at Lijit to enhance our Audience Analytics and focus on what we refer to as “actionable analytics” – meaningful and actionable stats that help you grow and monetize your site. For those of you who may not know about all the data we provide, you can each log into your personalized dashboard depending on the type of Lijit services that you use. Data includes:
- Audience demographics: age, gender, ethnicity, income level and education.
- Advertising performance: stats on ad requests, ad impressions, CPM, fill rate, and earnings to help you optimize revenue.
- Audience understanding: data on pageviews, geography, referring sites and searches, top posts, outbound clicks, and other sites that link to you.
- Search intent: statistics relating to number of searches, top searches and last searches, top clicked results and last clicked results, and searches that returned no results.
For those using Lijit’s advertising services, an ‘Ads Today’ section provides trending data comparing the current day’s ad performance to performance one week and one month prior.
Check out the cool interface:
At Lijit, we pride ourselves in the personal relationships we have with our publishers. We’ve been lucky enough to meet many of you in person and love to open our doors to locals and anyone traveling through Colorado who wants to check out our office.
This week, one of our local publishers, Tweety Got Back, decided to make the team at Lijit some special treats to say “thanks.” Tweety Got Back is a Twitter theme shoppe offering free backgrounds and themes. For all you publishers who use Twitter to promote your site, check out all the cool themes you can use!
As Rachel tweeted about these sweets she was concocting in her kitchen, we pondered what was going to show up at the office… cookies, brownies, cake? But what walked through the door were some of the most creative sweets we had ever seen. Believe it or not it was “sweet sushi,” made out of rice krispy treats and dried fruit. Needless to say, we ate them up!
Check out some of the photos below to see how beautiful they look, and thanks to Tweety Got Back for taking care of your friends at Lijit.
For those who want to make your own “sweet sushi,” click here for the recipe.
What we’re working on at Lijit is a way to help publishers extract added value from being part of a network. Here’s how we see it:
In the web of online publishing, the notion of network value is under-exposed (forgotten even?) when it comes to individual websites. Most of the “network effect” online remains confined to well-known examples like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and eBay. That doesn’t have to be the case. There is no reason that individual publishers or networks of sites of any size can’t benefit from being a node on the broader network and the associated reader, advertiser and traffic patterns.
Lijit leverages the aggregated network footprint of readers, search terms, demographics, brand advertisers, and a list of other important attributes. We take that aggregated asset and then feed the network value back to each individual publisher or site. This reflection of network value helps publishers simply: be better. Write better content. Curate more relevant things. Uncover ways to engage their readers more. And even make more money if that’s of interest to them. Every offering we have is free to the publisher, simple to implement, and comes with no strings attached. Publishers get value from it, or they vote with their feet and leave the network.
There are 5 primary categories of information that Lijit is providing publishers to help them gain crucial insights and actionable information. Information that they can use to make sites better, create or curate more engaging content, gain reader attention, and deliver better advertising that helps marketers reaches the right consumers.
- Comparisons: How does my site compare to other like sites?
- Trending: Are their macro trends that affect my advertising revenue?
- Indexes: Do sites like mine lag or exceed my peers?
- Intent: What are my readers looking or searching for?
- Engagement: How do readers engage into and with my content?
In each of the topical areas above the answer exists, or is amplified by, the networked connections between aggregation, comparison, and multi-site behavior of traffic, readers, marketers, social content, and reader expressions.
There does not exist a service today that helps publishers extract this understanding, much less value, from being a participant in the internet network. Look for some exciting and innovative new tools, services and analytics from Lijit in the near future that provide added value to publishers based on the key ingredients of network and context.
To follow up on our last post, here are some interesting findings from b.media forum. The consumer panel – including four consumers ranging from high school age to upper 20’s – provided a lot of interesting feedback on information consumption and sharing habits. Read on to see what our consumer panelists had to say…
- Nobody reads hard copy newspapers and very few read magazines; everyone goes online to find out news and information.
- Every consumer has purchased at least one app for their phone and/or iPad. On average, tech-savvy consumers have 60+ apps downloaded to their phone but are only actively using 10-15.
- When it comes to online advertising, brand perception isn’t affected if consumers see ads on a “bad” site; however, perception of a website’s quality is absolutely affected if the publisher shows poor-quality/irritating ads (e.g. pop-ups).
- Very few click on ads but when they do, it’s contextually relevant advertising.
- 3b new photos are uploaded to Facebook each month but there’s a movement towards real-time photo uploads. Nobody had uploaded an entire photo album to Facebook for over six months.
- High school kids use text and Facebook to communicate with their network, with 2x the use of text compared to Facebook. They don’t use LinkedIn and rarely use email (other than Facebook’s email platform).
- An estimated 20-30% of high school kids use Twitter. When they do, it’s to post “random” comments and follow celebrities.
- High school kids haven’t yet been exposed to Quora; young adults use it to find information but rarely, if ever, post questions or answers.
- Young adults primarily use Twitter and Facebook for communication. Tech-savvy consumers are increasingly turning to Twitter to communicate because they are overwhelmed by the amount of “friends” and Facebook requests (e.g. Farmville).
- Every consumer and almost every b.media attendee has changed their Facebook privacy settings.
And for those of you who haven’t yet watched our b.media video, enjoy!
Yesterday, Lijit and Foundry Group hosted the inaugural b.media forum. Based in Boulder, b.media brought together the digital media industry’s top entrepreneurs and thought-leaders to discuss consumers, online advertising, and publishing. Click here for a full list of attendees.
The half-day interactive discussion included three panel sessions:
- Consumer panel: moderated by Niel Robertson, CEO of Trada. Panelists included Dave Heal, Tim Falls, Cali Harris, and Casey Finkel.
- Publisher panel: moderated by Todd Vernon, CEO and founder of Lijit. Panelists included Todd Sawicki, CRO of Cheezburger Network; Andy Clurman, COO of Active Interest Media; Kurt Kohlstedt, Executive Editor of Webist Publishing & Misnamed Media; and Jeff Reine, GM of TypePad.
- Advertiser panel: moderated by Seth Levine, Managing Director, Foundry Group. Panelists included Rajeev Goel, CEO of PubMatic; Philip Smolin, VP and GM of TURN; and Jay Ferracane, Creative Director of Angry Bovine Advertising.
There were numerous insights from the forum that we’ll cover in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, check out our cool b.media video with tons of interesting market stats. And here are some photos below. Enjoy!
Over 15,000 sites on the Internet use Lijit’s advertising services, on-site search tool, and other widgets (analytics widget, recent readers widget, related content widget). Analytics are built into all of our tools but we do not sell the data. Instead, we feed it back to our publishers to help them better understand their audience and monetize their site. We also aggregate the data and use it to optimize CPMs and fill rates for our publishers.
Over the last few weeks we ran a detailed analysis to see what widgets are most often deployed on publisher sites across the Lijit network. We compared 2009 and 2010 data to identify market trends. Outlined below are some of the most interesting takeaways.
- 2010: 735,834 sites surveyed, 84.8% with widgets installed (13,541,022 widgets)
- 2009: 744,848 sites surveyed, 84.7% with widgets installed (13,826,562 widgets)
Key research findings:
The Lijit Top 50
Below is a list of the top 50 widgets and tools implemented on publisher websites. The adoption of social media widgets – including tools used for social networking, micro-blogging, bookmarking, and photo sharing – grew 80% from 2009 to 2010. Widget adoption specifically related to Facebook and Twitter almost doubled, growing from 6.96% to 11.86%.
Additional analysis revealed the following trends:
- Many content and engagement tools joined the Lijit Top 50 list for the first time in 2010. These tools include Twitter’s image sharing service, LinkWithin, Wibiya, and Tynt.
- Related content tools to keep readers on-site longer didn’t make the list of Top 10 tools in 2009 but are now being used by 3.68% of sites surveyed.
- Online advertising services continue to track at a 20% adoption rate; however, new monetization tools used in affiliate marketing programs such as Skimlinks, Infolinks, and Amazon saw a 16% increase in 2010.
- Audience analytics tools from Quantcast are becoming much more prevalent. Over 44% of the sites that use analytics use Quantcast to gather reader data, representing a 15% year-over-year growth.
- Website commenting systems now integrate social media components. Disqus, used on almost 75% of the sites that use a 3rd party comment provider, now supports social media commenting and sharing on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, Twitsteps, a Twitter-powered commenting system, now ranks the second most widely used commenting system after growing 356% in 2010.
Three main categories of referring traffic data were analyzed: 1) search engine traffic; 2) organic traffic (defined by sites linking to each other); and 3) social media traffic. A deeper look at referring traffic from social media sources verifies that both social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter as well as social sharing tools such as StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit are being used to drive traffic to publisher websites.
For additional insights into our research analysis, please read our press release, “Lijit Networks Announces Results of 2010 Publisher Tools Analysis.”
- “Functionality” includes analytics widgets. These add functionality for the publisher but are invisible to visitors.
- “Voluntarily” excludes widgets automatically added by the hosting platform. We are only interested in widgets that publishers make an effort to install.
- Image-based badges, such as FeedBurner subscriber counts, are not counted. HTML forms, such as the original Google search boxes, are also not counted. We may include support for these in the future.
- Our crawl is “centered” on sites with the Lijit widget (ad tags, site search and other Lijit widgets). Our crawler then expands outwards by following blogrolls and other linked sites. This may skew the overall results since research originates from sites within the Lijit Network.