Introducing a new series: Arts Analytics

Arts Analytics

I’m starting a new series of posts that that I’m calling Arts Analytics.

I’ve chosen a group of 100 arts organisations and, on a regular basis, I’m going to use various digital metrics to see how those organisations compare against each other. For instance:

  • What percentage of those organisations have mobile websites?
  • How many use Google AdWords?
  • How well have they optimised their website’s performance?
  • Who’s the noisiest on social networks?

I’ll try not to be too technical in all of this and, because the analysis is the key thing, in each post I’ll look at what the data is telling us and whether there’s anything useful we can learn. In some cases the lesson will be clear and obvious. In others that won’t be the case. In some cases I fully expect the message to be ‘don’t bother measuring this, it might be interesting but it’s a waste of time’.

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About the Arts Analytics series

For a while now I’ve been teaching myself more and more about the various ways to analyse an online presence and its effectiveness (and to identify areas for improvement). I’ve been learning about website stats, search engine optimisation, social media measurement, email marketing, ecommerce metrics and user testing and so on. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’m learning.

I get to use this kind of information in my work with arts organisations, passing on what I learn to clients so they can, in the words of the agency I work for “connect with their audiences and do better business”.

The more I’ve learnt, the more I’ve come to think that knowledge of this stuff across the cultural sector is patchy, at best. Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who know their stuff, but I also see too many organisations making simple errors and/or missing out on easy wins.

To sum up, I’m curious about this stuff and I think there’s value in sharing the lessons more widely. So that’s the point of this series of posts.

About the organisations I’m using for comparison

The 100 arts organisations I’ve chosen to use for this series are the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations that will receive the most funding in 2013/14. I’ve picked them because there’s already some useful data available that I can use and I suspect they’re more likely than most to have put some effort into their digital presence. They’re a reasonably varied bunch, representing various artforms and parts of the country.

Rather wonderfully, 19 of them are, or have been, clients of Made Media (the company that I work for). Let’s hope nothing lands me in too much trouble then. The full list is over on the Arts Analytics page.

Get involved

If there’s anything you’d like me to cover then please let me know. I’m mostly doing this out of my own sense of curiosity, but if there’s something you’d like me to look at then please let me know in the comments below.

Published by Chris Unitt

I work at One Further, doing digital projects with cultural organisations. Follow @ChrisUnitt or find me on LinkedIn.

5 replies on “Introducing a new series: Arts Analytics”

  1. Great idea, Chris. Look forward to reading this series. Just wondering how you’ll be measuring “who’s the noisiest on social networks”? Is this just measuring their own noise or will you also be looking at some of the social metrics too, eg. likes, shares, new follows, retweets too? Also wondering if you have any advice or insight into how these organisations turn that noise into real world impact. Bit of a personal fascination of mine, that one, (see also my aged blog on the issue here > ).

  2. Hi Joe – thanks very much!

    Hello Jason – I’m actually planning on doing a bit of everything you mentioned (I’ve got a mighty big list of potential posts here). I’d quite to look at general levels of output across social networks, as maybe that’ll indicate how much effort is being put in to this kind of thing. It’s also not too tricky to see, at a very basic level, which organisations’ websites tend to be shared socially the most. Although I don’t expect I’ll be get time to delve too deeply into that – maybe just concentrate on homepages rather than looking for popular individual pieces of content (highly shared homepages probably tell a different kind of story too).

    As for turning noise/online activity into real world impact, that’s a very interesting one and (without wanting to pre-empt things) may well point to a common problem/mistake when external people are making judgments on who’s doing social/digital/etc ‘well’. The thing is, for most of the organisations in my list (the exception being a few clients) I have no way of tying online activity to key outcomes. Or at least I’m limited in what I can do. It’s definitely something I want to come back to regularly though – I have no problem throwing my hands up and saying ‘I just can’t tell from this information’ but if I can flag up what the organisations could/should be measuring (and how) then I reckon that’ll be useful enough.

    Related to that, I’m aware that the organisations in that list are probably trying to achieve very different kinds of real world impact – some may well be more concerned with their artistic mission than (much more easily measurable) bums on seats and profit/loss considerations. Worth bearing in mind so I don’t make (too many) wrong assumptions.

  3. Timely piece of research, ACE are also monitoring digital activity and tech applications by the cultural sector. Very interested in this line of enquiry, if you need any info or access to data/reports let me know!

  4. Thanks, Peta. It’d be good to know what ACE are doing and how. I’ve heard mutterings for a little while that some review of how ACE considers/evaluates digital activity is being carried out but not seen anything concrete. If there’s anything you could dig out that’d be ace!

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