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Trinity Mirror using new 'high impact score' metric across regional websites to understand what 'loyal, local readers' want

Trinity Mirror is experimenting with a new audience metric which it says indicates the stories having the most impact with “loyal, local readers”.

The “high impact score” blends the number of page views on an article with the amount of time a reader is actively engaged and the percentage of unique users who are regular visitors to the website.

The new score is an advancement on an earlier measure used by the publisher for articles that received more than 5,000 unique users within a month and had an average engaged time of at least one minute, but did not look at the number of loyal users or convert it into a score.

“It’s designed to be a guide on impact, not a definitive list of ‘right’ content,” David Higgerson, digital publishing director at Trinity Mirror Regionals, said on Twitter.

He told Press Gazette: “We have measured stories by scale for a long time and that’s helped us grow our audience a lot, but it’s also important to understand – particularly in a mobile world – the stuff people stick with once they land on it.”

In just six months, Trinity Mirror’s regional websites – which include the Manchester Evening News and Hull Daily Mail – went from having 1,200 high impact stories each month to 1,900, Higgerson said.

The score was calculated for the first time in March.

A loyal reader is defined as someone who comes back to the website every working day on average.

“We wanted to understand what were the high impact stories which were really connecting with our loyal readers,” Higgerson said. “Our mantra is if a story is important, it’s important for us to work to make sure people read it.

“Hopefully what the high impact score does is it allows us to understand how important a story is to our loyal readers as well and sometimes that proves stuff you already know and sometimes it doesn’t.

“The key thing in the roll out of the Live brands is our content editors feel comfortable using lots of different signals so it’s not all about page views.”

These were Trinity Mirror regional websites’ top ten stories in March based on the new high impact score:

  1. Woman abandoned on snowy dual carriageway at midnight after Delta Taxi blunder
  2. Heartbroken family pay tributes to ‘cheeky, funny and caring’ Jordan killed on A63
  3. ‘We don’t know if we can carry on’ Couple driven to the brink of divorce by their eight-year-old son’s fits of violence
  4. Baby died after mum was left with midwives who had never delivered twins before – because all the doctors were busy
  5. Man tells of birth of baby son the day after his mum’s body was found
  6. Newcastle United news RECAP – Besiktas star midfielder linked; details of Kenedy loan details
  7. Family in ‘financial ruin’ as insurers refuse to pay out after devastating house fire
  8. Biker dead and devoted dad in prison after tragic crash in Plympton
  9. Power cuts sweep North Wales as Storm Emma brings snow and high winds – updates
  10. Witness of fatal A30 crash describes the ‘utterly horrific’ scenes in bid to make others think twice

After it was pointed out that the top ten was mostly comprised of “gloomy” stories, Higgerson changed the metrics to discover what happened if he ranked the stories by which one engaged people for the longest – in some cases for more than three minutes.

This created a top ten showing top engagement as follows:

  1. 100 Women – A celebration of Wales’s brilliant women
  2. Darren McKie guilty of wife Leanne’s murder – how a police officer became a cold-blooded killer
  3. 65 women in Cornwall who we think are totally inspirational, smart and brilliant
  4. Jordan Jones on ‘pushing Middlesbrough too far’, his teenage regrets & Kilmarnock lifeline
  5. Locked up: The paedophiles, murderers, thugs and con artists jailed in North Wales during February 2018
  6. The Kent drug dealers now locked up and off our streets
  7. The rise and fall of the Honicknowle Defence Regiment
  8. Newcastle United’s five-year French revolution: Where are Graham Carr’s 16 signings now?
  9. Meet Bristol’s lifers: The evil criminals serving life sentences for despicable acts
  10. Port Vale RECAP as Norman Smurthwaite answers questions at Supporters’ Club meeting

Higgerson said: “Crime comes through very strongly there and I think it’s an age-old thing. People tell us they don’t want to read about crime all the time, but we always used to sell more newspapers when we splashed on crime and it’s coming through in this data as well.”

He added that human interest stories also had high impact, citing “the age-old rule of putting a face in front of a story”.

Higgerson also said the stories – which include two celebrations of “brilliant women” and numerous versions of the “locked up” monthly crime round-ups – showed the value of putting “care and presentation” into a story.

“Any content which can hold the attention of a large number of people for more than three minutes on a mobile phone is doing a really good job,” he said.

The metrics do not “tell us anything a good journalist wouldn’t already know”, Higgerson added, but said the use of audience data had allowed Trinity Mirror to improve its storytelling and focus on more than just page views.

In June last year, the Trinity Mirror regional network received almost 5m daily unique browsers, a 98.9 per cent year-on-year increase.

Picture: Trinity Mirror

Comments

2 thoughts on “Trinity Mirror using new 'high impact score' metric across regional websites to understand what 'loyal, local readers' want”

  1. Comprehensive ‘soft news’, community coverage and niche-interest items are as important as high-impact sensationalist stories, and more so in some cases.

  2. Surely very few, if indeed any, Trinity Mirror website-users visit the same site EVERY working day. Even if a few weeks’ holiday per year are excluded, does any individual really unfailingly view, say, the Bristol Post or South Wales Echo website five days a week, all year round?

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