Usage Statistics – Not just for Libraries!

Publishers always depend on data: may it be the number of copies purchased by a bookstore or wholesellers for book publishers, or the profile of their subscribers to a particular title or collection for journal publishers. But today, we have to know more. In the world of electronic publishing we have to know how much usage our products are getting and how they are being used. This issue was examined in a valuable session at the June 2011 meeting of the Society of Scholarly Publishing (www.sspnet.org/).

Library customers have for years now stressed the importance of receiving COUNTER-compliant usage statistics for the electronic materials to which they subscribe. But publishers today must also mine the information they can collect from their electronic platforms in order to market their products most effectively to new potential customers and to retain their current subscribers.

In our renewal campaigns, Publishers Communication Group (PCG) finds that one of the major reasons for cancelling a subscription is lack of usage (http://www.pcgplus.com/pdfs/trends_05_10.pdf). To proactively avoid these situations, publishers can now examine their usage reports to gain a better understanding of some of the questions below. For example:


  • What is the average cost per download for different pricing tiers?

  • If an institution has registered for an online trial, is it being used?

  • What is the average usage of Doctoral-granting institutions versus Masters-granting institutions and Baccalaureate-granting institutions?

  • What is the usage of backfile content as compared to frontfiles? Can this be used to promote archive purchases to the institution?


Google Analytics can also be employed to add further context to standard usage information. The day is coming when the standard renewal notice will include not just price and type of subscription, but information harvested from a variety of data gathering tools about how valuable the content has proven to be at the institution.

In addition to being a valuable tool for renewals, usage statistics can help publishers to identify strong prospects for new subscriptions. Monitoring turnaways and where they are coming from should lead publishers to institutions that are likely to have a high interest in their content.

Ingenta’s marketing division Publishers Communication Group helps publishers sort through all this data to develop plans for leveraging the tools at their disposals. As a result, well-designed campaigns can help boost usage where it is too low and find valuable new prospects. Contact us at inquire@pcgplus.com for more information.