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Introducing the Audience Explorer analytics dashboard for small and medium-size news publishers

The dashboard is based around 10 custom reports you can use to drive engaged readership

Ned Berke
Ned Berke
Feb 6, 2019 · 11 min read

The audience funnel, user segmentation and creating a strategy

The Audience Explorer breaks down key Google Analytics data by three categories of users — known as segments — defined by their relationship to your website. These segments — Casual Visitors, Prospective Loyalists and Brand Lovers — comprise a basic funnel.

  • [CCM] Prospective Loyalists — Users who visited your site between two and five times in the timeframe explored by the dashboard.
  • [CCM] Brand Lovers — Users who visited your site six or more times in the timeframe explored by the dashboard.

Before you begin

Setting up the report

Here’s a Google Doc with detailed instructions. It takes about 20 minutes to get it up and running, and up to an hour to configure some of the optional reports (depending on your familiarity writing filter rules, it can be shorter or longer).

Using the built-in filters

Many dimensions in the dashboard can be clicked on to further filter the information of the page your viewing. These can show you a narrower slice of the activity you are analyzing. In most cases these are not labeled as filters, but I note them in the descriptions of each report below. Here is an example.

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Exporting data

Any table in a Google Data Studio dashboard can be exported to a spreadsheet or explored further in Data Studio. Look for the three dots on the top right of any table when hovering over it with the mouse.

Speed issues

Google Data Studio is painfully slow when connected to Google Analytics, especially in a dashboard with as many pages and reports as the Audience Explorer. If you have a large site, you may need to turn each page into its own Data Studio dashboard in order to reduce load speed.

Understanding the 10 Audience Explorer reports

Segment Overview

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Segment Overview

Content Report

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Content Report

Acquisition Report

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Acquisition Report

Platform Reports (Search, Facebook, Twitter)

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Search Report

Homepage Report

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Homepage Report

Newsletter Report

The Newsletter Report requires additional setup to identify the traffic that comes specifically from your newsletter (and not all email traffic). Instructions are provided in the documentation. Like the Homepage Report, the Newsletter Report shows you a very valuable slice of readership. It’s worth the extra steps to set up.

Characteristics Report

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Characteristics Report

Technology Report

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BONUS: Three reports to unlock more insight

The following three reports aren’t segment based, but are built at the request of, and with feedback from, several small publishers. Some may find them the most actionable part of this dashboard.

New User Report

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New user report

Time of Day

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Time of Day Report

Leaderboard

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Next steps

Editing the report

Once you’ve hit that copy button, this report is yours to do as you see fit. Add or remove metrics from the tables, or create tables that reflect the data you most want to see.

Custom dimensions

One way to really unlock the power of your analytic is to add custom dimensions. This brings data into Analytics like whether the user is logged in or not, as well as the author, category, tags, word count, etc., of the stories they’re looking at. You can see how your authors and categories resonate with specific segments, or if your Brand Lovers prefer longer or shorter articles.

Monthly tracking

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A template for monthly tracking

Good luck!

P.S. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, bugs, or just need a helping hand installing or understanding the Audience Explorer.


Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair…

Thanks to Stefanie Murray

Ned Berke

Written by

Ned Berke

Entrepreneur-in-Residence @ Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Audience Development @ Center for Cooperative Media. Audience builder. Dad/husband

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University

Ned Berke

Written by

Ned Berke

Entrepreneur-in-Residence @ Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Audience Development @ Center for Cooperative Media. Audience builder. Dad/husband

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University

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