How Trinity Mirror’s in-house analytics platform helps journalists and editors

Our editorial analytics platform HiveAlpha makes writers’ lives easier, this is how…

HiveAlpha’s content streams view

I wrote previously about how search drives the analytics data in our in-house tool HiveAlpha.

In this post I’ll go into more detail about how the platform helps journalists and editors when planning, writing and assessing the performance of content.

Article analytics

One of the most useful features of HiveAlpha is the article analytics screen. This gives writers and editors a highly detailed view of how any individual article has been accessed by our readers.

HiveAlpha Article Analytics

This screen combines data pulled from our web analytics software with data from a number of other services, enabling us to view information such as social shares, Google keywords and top tweets alongside our more traditional metrics for a page.

For writers to be able to see this at-a-glance information is hugely valuable in understanding why content did well and how to improve on its success in future.

Any Trinity Mirror user can view these insights instantly for millions of articles across dozens of websites, so writers can learn from each other as well as analysing their own content.

Streams

The Streams view is a constantly updated flow of our published content. It enables journalists to see what is being published across our publications in real-time, along with how that content is being promoted and other useful meta data.

It ties in seamlessly with the Article Analytics and has powerful filters to dive into historical content or particular sections.

The Streams view shows our latest content and how it’s promoted across our social media accounts

Streams is constantly tracking what we’re publishing, and also what others are publishing, so it also allows us to compare publishing volumes on specific topics. For example, the screengrab below shows which publications are the most obsessed with the EU. Unsurprisingly, the top two publishers are not remainers.

Trending updates

To complement the analytics information available in HiveAlpha and nudge writers back into the system, an automated email is sent out several times a day to hundreds of internal subscribers. It goes out just before the editorial conference in order to help editors form lists of potential stories.

Automated emails give us a heads-up on emerging trends

The email contains information on the latest trending topics from Google and Twitter, as well as the most viewed articles over the past 30 minutes, ordered by acquisition source.

Email as a medium is still a great prompt for users, and these emails have triggered many highly successful articles that have hit a trend before other publishers.

Event planning

An intelligent event planning process is essential to satisfying user demands and gaining visibility in search and social. HiveAlpha helps this process in two ways.

1. Editorial Calendar

Editorial calendars are difficult to get right — I’ve seen people use Google Docs, or heavy spreadsheets, or try to get along with a shared Google Calendar.

There are a number of commercially available editorial calendars but they don’t necessarily integrate well enough with the newsroom.

HiveAlpha has a fully featured, shared editorial calendar that works much like Google Calendar, except it’s tied closely into our content feed, and custom departmental or personal views are easy to set up. It can also be exported to Google or Apple Calendars for convenience.

Over the past couple of years the calendar has filled up and it is now invaluable for our forward planning process. And it ties in to the other event planning element of HiveAlpha, the Wiki…

2. Wiki

The Wiki element is a modified instance of the MediaWiki software that powers Wikipedia.

MediaWiki works surprisingly well as an intranet tool — the interface and layout is familiar, there’s good version history, and the search function is pretty good (funnily enough much better than on Google Sites).

We’ve found it very effective as a hub for planning events, as well as having a canonical destination to keep post-event insights, ready for the next time an event rolls around.

Reporting

Adobe’s Omniture is our core web analytics software, and while it has its merits, unfortunately it’s not great for those who aren’t fans of PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, or dashboards that look like this.

This dashboard contains a lot of information, but isn’t user friendly

In order to improve the usability of top-level reports, HiveAlpha offers a clean, fast, interactive web reporting dashboard, using data pulled from Omniture via its API. It also integrates with our editorial calendar, so peaks and troughs in visitor numbers are given context.

Top-level visitor charts integrate with the events planner to add context

The screengrab shows a generic section-level dashboard, with at-a-glance top-line metrics for any given time period.

Each section can instantly compare the performance of different acquisition channels and web platforms, along with user engagement levels and top performing articles.

Elsewhere in HiveAlpha authors can find a similar reporting dashboard customised for their own content, so they can get a longer view of which content is performing well, and why.

Zeitgeist

The Zeitgeist tool within HiveAlpha monitors what’s happening across the web and shows users a personal dashboard of the most viewed and shared articles across hundreds of news websites within different niches.

Version history

Somewhat less fun than other features of HiveAlpha, but a very useful one to integrate with our analytics data.

Version history in context of visitor data helps to show impact of changes

Inspired by the NewsDiffs project, I realised this was relatively easy to build directly into HiveAlpha.

Why? By hooking in a versioning system on to the articles cached in HiveAlpha, it becomes easy to show the impact that certain changes made to an article have had on traffic to that article.

It also helps to add context throughout the tool, allowing anyone to see what changed, when and why on any given article without having to open the CMS.

Summary

The above is a sample of some of the core features built into HiveAlpha that journalists and editors can use to make their lives easier, save time, and gain additional insights that help to make their content perform better.

The tool has been built out of the SEO team, so of course it also has a bunch of useful SEO features, which I’ll explore in my next post.