The Guardian’s in-house analytics tool Ophan looks set to be a huge money-spinner for the news site, with the publisher eyeing-up its potential to bring in not just ad revenue but also to license or sell on to other companies.
Built almost four years ago by The Guardian’s director of architecture, Graham Tackley, the constantly-evolving analytics system has not only “changed the culture of the newsroom to digital first”, it also helps editorial track its successes by providing deep analytics which are now being used by the marketing department.
The commercial team is currently trying to establish the most cohesive and effective way to use it as a viewability tool and the news outlet is confident Ophan – which ironically means a biblical all-seeing beast or wheel – will outfox the systems its main competitors use.
If they end up licensing or selling Ophan on to other companies it will be a bumper payday for The Guardian, currently the third largest English language newspaper site in the world and seventh most read news website in Australia, and its inventor, Tackley.
The Guardian Australia’s audience editor Dave Earley told B&T: “We’re changing the culture of the newsroom to digital first. It’s the best analytics tool in the world. No one has anything like this. The audience team guys and the two guys who created Ophan, have presented it at digital news conferences and events and there’s been a lot of interest.”
Unlike Google Analytics – which has a more complicated interface jostling with features for marketers analysts and marketers – Ophan, which is accessible by the entire global Guardian organization, is entirely unique and completely internal, showing the ebb and flow of the site’s audience.
And Earley said that with the intelligence derived, The Guardian Australia can quickly react to promoting its editorial content or implement changes on the content. It also ensures content is read by as many people as possible.
“Ophan is built for editorial to be able to see everything easily,” he said, “because Google analytics is, even for someone like me who has the keys to get in and may have a better understanding of it than other people, it’s still very difficult to get anything out that means much.
“Whereas this is built for editorial to inform journalists and editorial to see at a glance how everything works. A daily email goes to all staff with really in-depth analytics so they might pick out one particular story, and one new referral or platform it’s done particularly well on, and do a case study showing why that happened or what that phenomenon so everyone is educated.”
To date, The Guardian Australia’s most-read piece was last year’s Sydney siege live blog, which ran for 17 hours, followed by the Liberal spill.
Globally its most widely read piece was when former CIA contractor Ed Snowden revealed his identity exclusively to The Guardian on June 10, 2013 and got 3.7million page views on that day alone.