Last month at the Los Angeles DAA Symposium I got the opportunity to speak about the Multi-Platform majority and how we as individuals have changed our media consumption patterns dramatically over the last few years. Chances are you’re reading this post on a mobile device. Or maybe you’re visiting this blog via your PC. Perhaps you started reading the post on one device, and then finished reading it on another. We are all consuming content in a different way given that many of us have phones attached to our hands at all times (bad, I know!).
However, you’re not alone. The multi-platform majority has arrived, and is here to stay. In the U.S., 54 percent of internet users now access content on more than one device, and that number continues to grow. Of course, this isn’t surprising. The past half-decade has been defined by platform proliferation, beginning with the 2007 introduction of the Apple iPhone, which ushered in the era of the media-centric smartphone. Apple’s 2010 launch of the iPad similarly marked the beginning of the tablet era, and as competitors introduced their own smartphone and tablet offerings, mass markets for these devices were established. Today, more than 140 million Americans own smartphones and nearly 70 million own tablets.
However, this new speed of digital innovation poses a challenge for businesses, especially when it comes to web analytics. Traditional metrics used in web analytics are quickly becoming unreliable due to the proliferation of devices that are coming online. It isn’t that the measurement practices of the digital world are flawed, it’s that the inputs themselves are technologically evolving at a pace that is difficult to measure.
So what does this mean for your web analytics? Here are three points to consider as you start thinking about how to update your web analytics KPIs:
• Identifying and understanding your target customer is critical. This seems like an obvious first step, but content consumption does differ by category, which makes this task more complex. The sports category, for example, has seen modest desktop gains in content consumption accompanied by significant gains in mobile consumption. The weather category, on the other hand, has seen a considerable decline in desktop usage, with users most often accessing weather websites and applications on mobile platforms. Even Millennials have very different content consumption habits than other demographic groups. Having a better understanding of how digital media consumption is shifting within an industry will help you tailor your marketing and content strategies to your audiences.
• The majority of consumers access the internet via multiple devices each day. This is good news, as multi-platform users consume 23 percent more content than desktop-only users. But this also poses a challenge where metrics are concerned. The legacy web analytics systems of the past simply will not provide your business with the meaningful metrics it needs to succeed in this multi-platform world. When reevaluating your web analytics KPIs and tools, make sure the solution you select helps you understand a customer’s entire journey, not just the one they take on their desktop computer.
• Be aware of miscounting your KPIs in a multi-platform world. There are several KPIs that are commonly miscounted in traditional web analytics systems – ranging from unique visitors to conversion metrics -- which I discussed in a recent post on Forbes.com. In addition to understanding which legacy metrics are often misrepresented, know what questions you should be able to answer with your metrics. For example, how many of your users consume content across multiple devices? Does multi-device content consumption increase loyalty? These are just a few of the questions to consider that will help you refine your marketing and content strategies and, in turn, enhance your relationship with your audiences.
By adopting a unified and holistic approach to the digital consumer when it comes to web analytics, companies will not only ensure they stay ahead of the curve in this ever-changing environment, but they will also gain the insights needed to optimize their digital strategies and align around their most compelling long-term opportunities.