Dash offers news sites analytics by author, topic

A new Web analytics system launching Tuesday seeks to meet needs unique to content publishers rather than e-commerce or business websites. What sets Dash apart the most is its ability to tabulate pageviews by author, news topic or category, not just individual pages.

Judging from a pre-launch preview, Dash is a smart, efficient tool that almost any publisher would welcome. But for a couple reasons, it is probably going to appeal only to the larger news sites out there. Dash breaks out traffic trends by topic, not just individual stories.

One reason is the price -- with plans starting at $499 a month, it’s simply beyond the budget of a small newsroom. And its best features are designed to solve data-analysis problems unique to big sites that have more authors, stories and topics than any one editor can mentally juggle.

A website like The Daily Caller, one of a handful that have been testing the product, can see that stories about Mitt Romney are collectively the hottest topic on its site. Staff can drill down to see the most-read authors of Romney stories, or the social networks and websites driving the most traffic to those articles.

You can imagine many other ways to slice such data. Authors by topic; topics by author; referrers by topic; authors by referrer; and so on, for any time span. Dash gives editors enough underlying data to know not just what’s happening on their sites, but why.

"We use Chartbeat for minute-to-minute article traffic, and we use Google Analytics as well," Daily Caller Associate Editor Steven Nelson told me. "But Google Analytics is kind of clunky. It's good for big-picture, I think, but on a day-to-day basis seems to be the best."

Related: CEO explains the creation of Dash ( blog)

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    Jeff Sonderman

    Jeff Sonderman is the deputy director of the American Press Institute, helping to lead its use of research, tools, events, and strategic insights to advance and sustain journalism.


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