Using analytics to understand your audience, learn about your traffic, and make more money

Jul 8, 2011

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:

Search Dashboard

Ads Dashboard

To download Lijit’s Audience Analytics, click here. Please let us know what you think – we’re always looking for feedback!

Lijit publisher Tweety Got Back brings “sweet sushi” to Lijit!

Jun 24, 2011

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.

For a publisher, the network matters

Jun 6, 2011

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:

According to Metcalf’s Law, a network’s value derives from the number of nodes that are connected to the network. Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). Metcalfe’s law was originally presented, circa 1980, not in terms of users, but rather of “compatible communicating devices” (for example, fax machines, telephones, etc). Only recently with the launch of the internet did this law carry over to users and networks as its original intent was to describe Ethernet purchases and connections. The law is also very much related to economics and business management, especially with competitive companies looking to merge with one another. For example, 2 telephones can make only 1 connection, 5 can make 10 connections, and 12 can make 66 connections (see graphic to the left).

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.

  1. Comparisons: How does my site compare to other like sites?
  2. Trending: Are their macro trends that affect my advertising revenue?
  3. Indexes: Do sites like mine lag or exceed my peers?
  4. Intent: What are my readers looking or searching for?
  5. 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.

Lijit Product Updates: Reader Demographics

May 9, 2011

We just completed another round of updates and improvements to our publisher products. We’re putting a lot of energy behind building out our ad services and publisher analytics and we’re expanding our offerings with every software release. So what’s new?

Reader Demographics:

The most important part of being an online publisher, is understanding your audience. On top of all of the other great audience analytics we provide to help you understand your readers, we now offer reader demographic data right inside your Lijit dashboard. This new statistic allows you to see the overall makeup of your online audience, and further understand who you are creating content for, and the demographic distribution of people frequenting your site.

Why are demographics important?

  • Understanding your readers

The best way to effectively create relevant content for your readers, and to attract new readers, is to know who they are. Understanding the makeup of your audience is key to ensuring you are producing content that will engage and resonate withyour audience.

  • Monetizing your site

Advertisers looking to reach the right audience for their online display advertising campaigns always consider demographics when making targeting decisions. You will be better equipped to attract and sell advertising for your site if you understand the demographic makeup of your audience

Check out your dashboard to see the demographic makeup of your site and start down the path of better understanding your readers. Just goto www.lijit.com, login and check it out at the bottom of your Lijit dashboard.

Other News:

  • Removed MyBlogLog support

We removed support for MyBlogLog and disabled it’s use as a content and network source for publishers who use our search engine services.  MyBlogLog had a great run and was a key integration partner in the early days of Lijit. Yahoo is shutting down all MyBlogLog services at the end of May, so we decided to deactivate it on our side before that happened.

  • Welcome Widget support

We made the difficult decision to “end-of-life” our Welcome Widget product. Publishers who previously used this feature will no longer see a UI to manage settings for the Welcome Widget, and we automatically disabled the functionality it provided. We’re always looking for ways to enable our publishers to better engage their readers, so keep an eye out for more site tools and functionality in the future.

B.media: what do today’s consumers have to say?

May 5, 2011

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…

Information consumption:

  • 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.

Information sharing:

  • 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!

b.media forum from Lijit on Vimeo.

b.media forum: presented by Lijit and Foundry Group

Apr 22, 2011

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:

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!

Todd Vernon, CEO of Lijit; Seth Levine, Managing Director of Foundry Group; and Jeff Reine, GM of TypePad

Cali Harris, consumer panelist

Our fearless leader, Todd Vernon, moderating the publisher panel

Lijit's Todd Vernon and Walter Knapp walking to networking reception with Lijit Board members Mark Solon and Paul Berberian

Rajeev Goel, CEO of PubMatic, and Alex Vogenthaler, Product Manager at Google

Brad Feld, Managing Director of the Foundry Group

b.media networking reception

b.media networking reception

The New Lijit Dashboard

Mar 21, 2011

One of the most valuable things we offer to users of our publisher tools and display ads are the rich analytics we provide on our site. By using any of our installable tools or ads, you automatically get free stats about your site’s readers and ad performance.

We’ve just launched a huge upgrade to our publisher’s ability to leverage these free stats with the Lijit Publisher Dashboard. We completely revamped the way we display analytics and put them “center stage” so you can get quick and easy access to the data that is most meaningful and actionable.   Each publisher gets a dashboard experience that is tailored to who they are.

Only interested in our display ad services? You get a dashboard and stats display that focuses on what you care about – ad performance and revenue.

Interested in advertising , but you still want analytics about your site’s audience ? We provide a dashboard that gives you the best of both worlds by combining ad performance statistics with audience data to give you a 360 degree view of your site.

Not only do you get a dashboard that gives you the most important data about your online publication, but you can drill into more detail on ad performance, audience statistics, and search behavior to better understand your reader’s and how to monetize your site.

Features include:

  • Ads Today- Get up to the minute information about your ad performance. We look at your current performance and compare it to the same time of day 1 week ago or 1 month ago so you can see how you’re doing in relation to past performance.
  • Unique Reader Stats- See how many unique visitors you are getting to your site and how it compares to the number of page views and searches you are getting.
  • Public Profile – Highlight the content you create online and share it with the world. The new public profile is a page where readers can see and search your online content, follow you on social media services, and share the page using twitter, facebook, and email.

We’re really proud of this new feature and excited to grow it into a tool that allows publishers to better understand their readers, and more effectively run their business. If you have any feedback, let us know at product@lijit.com

Lijit Study Shows Publisher Adoption of Social Media Tools Grows 80%

Mar 2, 2011

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.

Background:

  • 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.

Referring traffic
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.

Referring traffic to websitesSocial media traffic to websites

For additional insights into our research analysis, please read our press release, “Lijit Networks Announces Results of 2010 Publisher Tools Analysis.”

Our methodology:
Our definition of “widget” is “any regularly-occurring functionality on a website powered by an external service, voluntarily installed by the site owner, and powered by Flash or Javascript.”

  • “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.

Forums: The Original Social Network?

Feb 24, 2011

Last week I had the pleasure of being on a panel at the Forum and Communities conference in San Francisco.

Since the inception of Lijit we have worked with publishers who have amazingly engaged communities of readers. Many of these publishers are in the mid- and long-tail. They have highly niche and conversational sites which encourages readers to engage by returning often, leaving comments, etc. My personal theory is that it’s because blogs tend to surface more of the personality of the author. Over time this personality acts as meta-data that the reader uses to form a bond with the publication, resulting in higher reader engagement. Lijit’s services were designed to help publishers foster this engagement.

Participating in the Forum and Communities conference introduced me to a different kind of publisher. Forums or message boards are places where extreme enthusiasts come to together online to share information about their deepest passions. For example, I regularly browse car forums to find information about the cars I own. I recently dug up some facts on the Camaro5 forum about how to install an aftermarket part. Forums are an amazing wealth of information. Many call forums the original social network.

Forums tend to get a lot of their traffic from Google and other horizontal search engines. That makes sense given all the original user generated content (UGC) that appears on forums. Interestingly, forums tend to receive very few referrals from social network services such as Twitter of Facebook which probably has something to do with their makeup. Forums tend to focus on the community without having a clear central personality. This makes it difficult to leverage a personality-based service like Twitter to drive traffic.

With a little creativity, however, forums could easily leverage these social tools. When I look at sites like icanhascheezburger.com, the CEO Ben Huh has done an excellent job with Twitter serving as a single personality who represents a curated site where content is created by the community. Ben highlights various posts and general information about the site which helps engage the community and keeps readers coming back for more.

I really enjoyed the time I spent with forum publishers and am committed to finding ways that Lijit can work with them to provide the same great business partnership we have with mid- and long-tail sites!

Lijit Product Update

Feb 14, 2011

We just wrapped up another successful software release cycle and can’t wait to share the fruits of our labor. We’ve got some great updates to our site  that help publishers better understand their readers, create quality content, and monetize their sites.

Updated  Stats UI

We completely redesigned the look and feel of the stats and analytics sections of our site.  The code we used to generate charts and graphs has been completely replaced and given a new look and feel. The static maps we previously used to highlight where readers come from have been converted to Google Maps to make it even easier to find out where your readers come from. One of the best parts about this change is the additional support for mobile devices. Not only does everything just look “cooler”, you can now view your stats on your iPhone, iPad, Android, and many other devices.

New graphs are easier to read and more informative.

Google Maps allow you to zoom in and really see where your readers are coming from.

New Ad Stats UI

In the pursuit of transparency in reporting, we bring you ad stats you can’t get anywhere else (fill rate). We also want you to  understand them, so we restructured the way we display ad statistics to make them easier to read and make it easier for you to, at a glance, see how your ad tags are performing. If you want to dig deeper, it’s as simple as clicking on an ad tag’s title to see more data.

Search Plixi Photos

We’ve added search results support for one of the most popular twitter photo sharing tools. Plixi (formerly tweetphoto) allows you to share twitter photos via mobile device and the web. Their API is also integrated into many popular twitter applications for mobile and desktop environments. By integrating your Plixi account with your Lijit search engine, you can expose relevant photos and tweets to people who search your Lijit profile. Check it out by selecting the “Content” section of your Lijit profile and providing your Plixi account name.

And More…

We’re constantly building tools to make our ad operations more efficient. This translates into more optimized campaigns and more revenue for our publishers.

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, let us know at support@lijit.com .