Metrics are a continually discussed—and debated—aspect of digital advertising and publishing. 

As an industry, we’ve created an impressive (frustrating?) number of acronyms to attempt to measure the ROI of our efforts, from ARPU (average revenue per user) to RPMv (revenue per a thousand viewable impressions). And depending on the publisher you ask, some will have a different view of what success means over others. 

Let’s dive into the state of metrics as we head into 2024 and what publishers should consider based on three key goals.

What to track as an online publisher looking to increase traffic

There are a ton of ways you could track website performance, so while this list is not comprehensive, we think it does include some of the most critical metrics that will tell you if your site is attracting eyeballs—and if those eyeballs keep reading:

  1. Average session duration tells you how long website visitors spend per session on average. An extended session could indicate better interest in/engagement with your site. 
  2. Average time on page tracks how long visitors spend on a web page on average. Time on page can indicate how engaging and compelling your content is; the longer you keep visitors, the better. 
  3. Bounce rate calculates your percentage of visitors who load one website page and leave without interacting with the page or others. 
  4. Pages per session indicate the number of pages viewed on average by a user each session, highlighting how a given user spends their time on your site. 
  5. Page views count the number of times a page on your website is seen by a visitor.
  6. Traffic sources highlight where your website traffic comes from, such as direct, organic search, paid search, referral, email, and social media.

How Disqus helps: Publishers can integrate Disqus with Google Analytics. Once configured, you can measure the number of comments your readers are posting alongside the metrics you already track with Google Analytics, such as page views and time on site. View more on how to do this here

What to track as an online publisher looking to grow community 

Getting traffic to your website is one thing. Getting that traffic to engage via reactions, comments, shares, and more is another. Some metrics to watch (and several of these are specific to Disqus) to see if your users are engaging with your content to the degree you want them to include:

  1. Article reads are the number of times people view an article where Disqus is installed, allowing you to drive people to specific articles to increase comments.
  2. Comment activity provides your site’s total comment and vote activity daily and monthly so you can benchmark whether certain days or events increase or decrease activity.  
  3. Commenters are the total unique commenters for a given article to gauge how many individual visitors to your site have commented.
  4. Comments are the total comments for a given article, a straightforward measure.
  5. Comment reads are the number of times people view the comment section on an article, another metric that can help you optimize community discussions and increase engagement.
  6. Comment readers are the total users who read the comments on your site, giving you an idea of how many of your readers you can entice to engage in community discussions.
  7. Engaged readers are the total users who have either commented or voted on a comment. You can get a further breakdown of total new, returning, and recovered users to see how each segment is represented in your community and their respective growth rate.
  8. Reactions trends over time track users’ responses to a story, such as a like or frown, over a set date range or the 30 most recent threads. This can help you see the sentiment different articles are producing among users.
  9. Reactions thread data shows the categories of content yielding the most engagement, allowing you to revise your content strategy accordingly and double down on producing similarly themed content.
  10. Subscribers are the total users who have opted into your email list via the Email Subscriptions feature. This is a great metric to track, as it connects to how you promote your articles and their comments and gives you an idea of how many users are loyal to your site.
  11. Top comments are comments from the last seven days receiving the most positive voting ratios, which can help in identifying new and active users.
  12. Total engagements are the total number of comments and votes for a given article, a solid metric for seeing how engaged users are in particular articles vs. others.

How Disqus helps: The traffic overview in our Analytics dashboard provides a multi-axis graph of Article Reads, Embed Reads, and Engagements over time so you can measure the positive relationship between Disqus engagement and your readership.

What to track as an online publisher looking to monetize your site

If your site gets enough traffic that it warrants investing in advertising, several metrics can show you the ROI of your ad performance:

  1. Average revenue per user (ARPU) is the total revenue divided by your users or subscribers. The more pages per session, the more ad units, the higher the revenue, as Jon Hawkins, the chief revenue officer at and former VP of growth at Time Inc., shared in a guest blog post back in 2019.
  2. Revenue combines revenue, viewable impressions, viewability %, RPMv, and clicks from using Disqus Ads.
  3. RPMv is revenue per a thousand viewable impressions, or the revenue you'll get every 1,000 times readers scroll down to view ads in your Disqus comment section.
  4. Viewable impressions are how often a reader scrolls down to the Disqus forum below the fold to see Disqus ads—your Ads earnings are partly based on viewable impressions.
  5. Viewability percent is how often a reader scrolls down to view Disqus ads as a percentage of total pageviews—the percentage of viewable impressions per total impressions on your page.
  6. Total earnings are your complete Ads earnings based on the above metrics.

How Disqus helps: For revenue, you can see the amount you earned from Disqus advertising, viewable impressions, viewability, RPMv, and clicks. For payments, view both upcoming payments and unpaid earnings.

Did we miss a vital publisher metric? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.