Study: More enterprise reporting needed in b-to-b digital newsFeb. 20, 2013 -- Many b-to-b digital news stories fall short in enterprise and end-user quotes, according to the final numbers of Editorial Solutions’ Phase III study on b-to-b e-news performance. The study, which wrapped up earlier this year, is the third installment in the research and takes a look at 10 articles on each of the 50 b-to-b news sites. In total, the three phases reviewed 150 sites, reflecting 79 b-to-b publishers and more than 1,500 articles.
“To a certain extent, the research phase was somewhat depressing,” said Howard Rauch, president of Editorial Solutions Inc, in an email. “Until Phase III, I had no idea how many b-to-b e-news packages amounted to little more than PR announcement reproduction. When I began Phase III, I had two objectives: (1) to assess sites sponsored by companies not covered in Phase I or Phrase II, and (2) to seek out those sites that conceivably could earn top scores when exposed to my eight-factor scoring system. As time went on, my hopes of collecting data for all 50 sites that could qualify for goal two seemed beyond reach, especially when evidence of enterprise was sought.”
As part of the study, each story on a news site is scored on eight factors: enterprise, impact, number of direct quotes, number of words used before key story point, Fog Index grade level, average sentence length, total article word count and number of embedded links. Twenty is the most points that can be earned for enterprise and impact, while the 10 is the most points that can be earned for the other factors, for a total of 100 points.
Out of the top 10 finishers for Phase III, only six sites showed enterprise in more than half of their scored stories. For the bottom 10 finishers, six sites showed no enterprise in their scored stories. The top news site boasted a 63.8 average article score.
“Evidence of enterprise continues to be unimpressive,” said Rauch. “And there has to be an obvious investment problem when one sees so many sites totally devoted to unedited or mildly-edited press announcements.”
Looking at individual stories, regardless of publisher, only half of the top 10 news articles scored high in impact, which Rauch describes as “news that offers universality of interest.” Four of the top 10 articles scored medium, which were mostly product announcements. Alternatively, six articles out of the bottom 10 scored medium and two articles in the bottom 10 scored low, a rating described as purely promotional announcements from vendors.
Rauch says the Phase III results are consistent with his Phase I and Phase II findings. Out of all three installments, the highest score achieved was 72.6 out of 100.
“It is probably true that ABM members do a better job in all areas -- especially the multi-publisher contingent,” said Rauch in an email. “Even so, for my three studies to date, [the highest score] is not really a score to brag about. When the average site is capable of earning an average score of 80.0 or higher, that will be cause to celebrate!”
Rauch believes workload might be the cause of low performance in this study, and publishers should invest more in their digital staffs.
“An ABM member three years ago speaking at a publishing executive conference said, in so many words, ‘one of our problems is with our rush into digital, we’ve become less good,’” said Rauch. “If you think about it, you had print magazines and then came online. You had people doing both. Companies expanded their frequencies of newsletters. Some had one, now some had five. That’s the reality.”
ABM members who wish to view the full results can contact Rauch at email@example.com.
By Elizabeth A. Reid