Friday, December 11, 2009

Traffic Report

Here at TigerBlog HQ, we have a monthly departmental staff meeting, an event that mostly discusses issues of relevance to coaches.

Every now and then, TigerBlog gets a speaking role, usually to talk about things like the webpage and decisions that are pending about communications. That was the case at the most recent one, held yesterday.

When TigerBlog worked in the newspaper business in the last century, he thought of athletic communications offices as if they worked for him, and there are still many media types who think the same way. In fact, CoSIDA (the College Sports Information Directors of America) has in its code of ethics language that speaks to the relationship between the media and sports information offices. There was also a story, which TB can't find, on CoSIDA's site that basically said that even in this changing world, sports information's first responsibility is always to the media.

TigerBlog held onto his sportswriter view of the world when he first started working on the other side of the fence, but as time has gone by, he's made about a 180-degree turn. As an aside, TigerBlog loves when people say they've made a 360-degree switch from their previous position, which would of course put them back at the same point where they started.

Yes, here at HQ we still spend our time helping the media, but not nearly to the extent that we used to. In fact, as TigerBlog has said before, we have gone from being 95% a media relations office in the mid-1990s to being 95% a media outlet of our own today.

Also, as we make big-picture decisions, our area of focus has changed to where the needs of the media do not make the list of constituents on whom we focus. Instead, our decisions are centered on, in no order: recruiting, corporate sponsorship fulfillment, revenue generation, marketing, fans, alumni.

TigerBlog's talk at yesterday's meeting was about traffic on and what it says about what we do. The main Princeton site generates nearly 1,000,000 page views per month, which TigerBlog already knew, but with the help of google analytics (a great tool), TB found out some other information that he didn't know.

Today's quiz: From how many countries did people access and TigerBlog in the last 30 days? The answer will be revealed below.

For his talk, TB printed out a list of all stories in this calendar year that have generated a minimum of 1,000 page views, and what he found was pretty interesting.

Of the top 13 stories in terms of page views this year, only one was a game recap. For the record, it was the game story after Princeton defeated Syracuse in men's lacrosse in the Big City Classic, which ranked eighth with 2,577 views.

There were 66 stories on the list that had generated at least 1,000 page views, of which only 17 were game recaps. It sort of goes to what TB thinks, which is that people don't read game stories anymore.

It used to be that almost all of your information on who won or lost came from a game story, usually in the next day's newspaper. Now? Forget it.

TigerBlog was at one of the six performances of "Meet Me In St. Louis" that he saw in an eight day span while Georgetown was playing Butler in men's basketball. How did he find out the score? On his cell phone, which also told him leading scorers and other stat leaders. If it hadn't been for his cell phone, he could have found out the score and stats in a dozen other ways, none of which would have involved a game story. In fact, TB never read a game story, on Georgetown's website or on any other site. What did he read? A blurb in a notes column about Georgetown's Greg Monroe in the daily "Sports News Today," which, by the way, is a tremendous product, one that is emailed to TB each day (for free, but that's another story).

What are people reading about on Well, judging by the page views, items that are read more than game stories are: game previews, game stats, player bios and general information on things like tickets.

What does this mean as far as decision making? Maybe the traditional game story has become obsolete. Maybe just a paragraph of the score and a leading scorer, followed by notes, with no play-by-play but heavy on what the result means and what's up next for that team? With video, of course.

The game story on a college website, of course, grew out of a release that was sent to the newspapers and other media outlets. If the game story changes, then the newspaper would be left with just a sentence or two. Is this a problem?

Also, player bios were something of an afterthought in the past, there to be updated once a year after the, what were those things called, oh yeah, media guide was done. Now? They need to be updated after each contest - keep in mind there are around 1,000 athletes at Princeton - preferably with video.

And sites like the ticket site have to be high priorities, since that's where people are going. This turns into revenue. Frequently updated bios turn into a recruiting edge. Features and pregame stories drive web traffic, which in turn helps with corporate sponsorship, which helps in all sorts of ways. And on and on.

Game stories? Whom are they helping?

Oh yeah, for the answer: in the last 30 days, people from 134 different countries went to and people from 60 different countries went to TigerBlog.

What does that mean? What does any of it mean? The web traffic numbers are interesting.

The challenge is to figure out how best to use them.


Anonymous said...

Maybe you can add Academic Major, etc., to those bios someday.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for maintaining this blog. It's also nice for the fans in Eastern Pennsylvania.