Interview: Beth Diaz, Washington Post on How Dark Social is Shadowing Modern Analytics

We discuss recent events at Washington Post, growth initiatives, the growing pain of Dark Social, how to deal with it, audience analytics, advice and more.

AR: Q5. Besides Dark Social, what are the other top challenges in audience analytics?

device-proliferationBD: While the proliferation of devices has been great for growing when and where users can consume our content, it has made the world of audience analytics more complex. There has also been a strong push towards real-time analytics, so we have to balance the need to provide data as quickly as possible while at the same time providing thoughtful insights and deeper analysis.

AR: Q6. How has the increasing trend of news consumption over social and mobile channels impacted audience analytics at Washington Post? Is there inclination towards any particular delivery format - text, audio or video?

multi-formatBD: The proliferation of formats and channels has been great for The Washington Post, although it certainly has made our work in analytics more challenging! At The Washington Post, we believe in the importance of reporting stories and delivering content in the formats that help us tell the story in the most compelling way. This includes articles, photos, videos and interactive graphics and other multimedia content.

AR: Q7. What do you consider as the most important metrics for audience engagement?

BD: Obviously, unique visitors and pageviews are critical, but we also consider other metrics. At The Washington Post, we are focused on tracking our users as they move down the engagement funnel; from total unique visitors, to frequency of visits and time spent, to understand our loyal readers, and finally paying subscribers.
AR: Q8. What is the best advice you have got in your career?

BD: Speak your mind, stand up for what you believe in, and don’t be afraid to take chances.

AR: Q9. What key qualities do you look for when interviewing for Analytics related positions on your team?

curiosityBD: One thing I don’t look for is deep experience with digital analytics – you can teach people the tools, but you can’t teach them the mindset. When I’m talking to candidates, I’m looking for raw intelligence, a curious mind, a strong quantitative orientation, and great communication skills, both written and verbal.

AR: Q10. On a personal note, we are curious to know what keeps you busy when you are away from work?

BD: I spend most of my time chasing my two year old and my eight year old around! When I get a break from that, I enjoy photography (I worked as a wedding photographer in the past) and cooking (I’m always trying to expand my repertoire to new cuisines).