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How The Atlantic Uses Real-Time Analytics to Boost Readership

Selena Ricks-Good
Posted by: Selena Ricks-Good on Dec 5, 2017 12:00:00 AM
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Mission Data built a custom dashboard for the leading global publisher
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In this age of a shrinking publishing industry, Washington, D.C.-based The Atlantic continues to defy the odds. Founded in 1857, the monthly literary and cultural magazine with a focus on long-form journalism is profitable, receiving more than 80 percent of its revenue from digital sources, live events, and even a consulting arm.

Since pivoting to a digital-first strategy in the mid-2000s, the publication has emerged as a global digital media company, citing 33 million unique monthly visitors. As part of its digital growth, The Atlantic hired Mission Data in 2016 to develop a robust internal dashboard to measure business intelligence for their flagship website, TheAtlantic.com.

Editors were using a convoluted spreadsheet to track audience development and traffic metrics, which was complex and time-consuming. To boost efficiency and meet advertising goals, the client needed actionable data on viewership, user experience, site performance, and more.

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Example of dashboard design. Not actual client data.

Over a two-month timeframe, Mission Data created an internal dashboard to sit on an API created by the client’s digital team. The story and author database provided by The Atlantic included 150 years’ worth of articles.

Our team leveraged React.js to develop the business intelligence tool, which drills data down by several filters, including article categories, author, and range of dates. The analytics dashboard measures unique views, time spent on each story, frequency of posts, and views on various channels, among other KPIs. Editors can compare data during time periods such as the previous week or month. The dashboard UX/UI was designed to match the look and feel of TheAtlantic.com.

With access to real-time data and predictive analytics, The Atlantic editors can better measure article performance and respond to changes immediately. The publisher’s operations team can track their target audience and work toward achieving business goals. Known for in-depth reads that break from the social media-fueled listicles and surface noise, The Atlantic can now focus on delivering content that builds brand loyalty and resonates with readers.

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