One metric that matters – for our lives

The idea behind the “one metric that matters” or OMTM is to move past the noise and focus on the metric that actually drives business success. For example, in the context of publishing and advertising, the one metric that matters is user attention. No attention = no business. What, then, is the OMTM for our lives?

My hypothesis is that it is engagement. Metrics that matter are rarely result based metrics. Result based metrics are lagging indicators. Thus, process based metrics are the way to go. As humans, two process based metrics that play a big role in our days are time and energy. Many tell us that time management is the ultimate hurdle. Then again, others have made a strong case for us to forget about time and focus on our energy. But, that’s exactly what makes engagement special.

Engagement is a function of both time and energy. Engagement requires us to pay attention. And, attention requires energy. So, engagement is actually the consistent application of energy through time. It drives everything good in our lives – better work, better relationships and better fun.

Researcher Brene Brown wrote this about parenting – “We all know that perfect parenting does not exist, yet we still struggle with the social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. The real questions for parents should be: “Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?” If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn’t exist, and I’ve found what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.”

Of course, we could replace parenting with life in this passage and it would still work wonderfully well.

OMTM for German publishers

OMTM stands for “one metric that matters.” Understanding the OMTM for a business is incredibly helpful in analyzing the impact of an initiative.

A collection of German publishers came together recently to create a pooled data set to help improve their ad targeting capabilities to be able to better compete against Facebook and Google. The CEO of the new platform had this to say – “Nobody is suffering more than publishers and sales houses in Germany, because they don’t have enough data, and their data silos will never be able to aggregate enough to come even close to Google and Facebook,” said Daniel Neuhaus, CEO of Emetriq. “Even now we’re pooling it; we’re still nowhere near but we’re getting closer in quality and quantity of data.”

He definitely deserves points for honesty. While I think this initiative makes 100% sense, I doubt it’ll do much to move the needle. And, it is easy to understand why when you understand “OMTM.” The OMTM for advertising is audience attention. The more time the audience spends on a platform, the better the advertising potential. The amount of time users spend on Facebook and its properties is only increasing. Couple this engagement with the increase in the number of daily active users on these properties and you begin to see why Facebook is being touted the killer of journalist business models. Google, on the other hand, benefits from being the perfect spot for direct ads as these depend on intent. If a user is searching for car dealerships in their town, it is likely they’re shopping for a car. In both these cases, the key is audience attention. Data helps. But, it is just the by product of a good product.

So, what should publishers do to really compete? Get better. Provide better, sticky content that will drive German consumers to their websites and have them stay longer. They need the sort of content that will encourage their audience to by-pass Google and Facebook and show up directly. Do that and the pooled data set will pay dividends. Else, it will just be a case of too little, too late.

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