RNZ (Radio New Zealand) is New Zealand’s state-funded broadcaster. Forget the fusty pulled-up-socks-and-shorts vibe you might get when you think of public radio, RNZ delivers thought-provoking journalism and storytelling online and on air, and plays good music. As an avid listener I was stoked when their Digital Product and Audience team wanted some help to understand and improve RNZ’s online performance to complement their already-strong audience research.
RNZ is a dynamic force – people can listen to broadcast radio live through analogue or digital channels, download RNZ audio on demand or listen to RNZ podcasts, and consume news, videos and live coverage through the RNZ website, social media, apps or third party channels. All of which makes it very difficult to measure performance!
What data does RNZ need?
We held a workshop with people from news, radio, social media and the digital team. I showed them examples of data in action, and found out what they wanted to achieve. A clear trend emerged for radio and podcast producers. They want to see which stories from their programmes are performing well, and understand why in order to create more engaging content and prioritise what they feature. In their own words, they “need to know what not to be doing” because they’re time-poor and work with so many channels.
I created dashboards for twelve RNZ programmes and podcasts showing:
- traffic volumes and changes over time
- popular website pages, audio files and social content
- what their users are looking for in on-site searches
With this view, RNZ producers can see the performance of their content across different channels, and understand the audience for each.
How are the dashboards used?
We showed the dashboards to a few producers and they found useful insights straight away. These included:
- users searched for the name of a popular weekly guest, so the producer created a new page which received over 1200 visits
- pages with a decent amount of written or visual content were performing better than those with just an audio link
- producers were surprised to see really old content performing well – these stories had become topical again and been shared in social media
- producers used the dashboards to find out whether their own social media efforts were sending people to the website
The dashboards show what’s successful, and begin to “explain the insanity of why some things do really well”, to put it in their own words. We’re going beyond digital and into the heart of what RNZ wants to achieve – good storytelling that resonates with the New Zealand public. Nothing will replace excellent journalists, producers and broadcasters – they’re the soul of RNZ. But data can help them better understand their audience, and target their content for different channels and audiences.