Information managers have been leveraging usage statistics for years to determine what content researchers consider important. Usage data is provided to information managers in many ways including through COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources).

In January 2019, COUNTER updated its code of practice from Release 4 (C4) to Release 5 (C5). According to the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), Release 5 of the COUNTER Code of Practice is “designed to balance changing reporting needs with the need to make things simpler, so that all content providers can achieve compliance and librarians can have usage statistics that are credible, consistent, and comparable.”

In the final installment of our three-part series around COUNTER updates, we will discuss the importance of usage data (including COUNTER) for information managers, and things to think about when leveraging this data to defend and optimize content spend at your organization.

Take Stock of All Available Usage Data

Information managers should ensure they have access to and understand the usage data they need to defend their content and resource spend. In addition to COUNTER data, information managers may have access to usage numbers from their document delivery provider and/or subscription management vendor. They will also have “non-standard” usage reports from vendors who are not COUNTER compliant. It’s the information manager’s job to bring these data sources together and create a 360-degree view of their organization’s content usage. Reviewing this data can give the information manager the understanding of what content is being used, when it’s used, and more. Data is an important piece to defending content spend.

Going Beyond Usage Statistics

While a part of the puzzle, standalone usage statistics are not enough. The data needs to tell a story that goes beyond numbers, and provide a more precise picture of what content users are most interested in. Information managers continue to look for even more data that can be used to help them better understand their clients, how they interact with the content they subscribe to and purchase, the products they license, and how the content fits into their workflows.

Information managers should consider the following as they explore ways to leverage their usage data:

  • Turn your usage data into actionable insights
    • According to a report by Forrester, 74% of firms say they want to be data-driven, however just 29% are successfully transforming analytics data into business actions.
  • Explain usage data through visualizations
    • Transforming data into more engaging, intuitive, and valuable information is growing in importance for information managers, as the need to convey progressively complex numbers and ideas increases.
  • Think about usage data creatively
    • Information managers know that sometimes usage and spend data is not enough. There are some cases where the cost appears high, and the amount of use is low relative to other sources, but nevertheless the content is vital to the organization. Unfortunately, when budgets are flat or on the decline, this narrative won’t be enough. You need to be able to prove the value of content beyond usage metrics.


For more information about COUNTER, you can visit their website at

Keep Learning:

To learn how information professionals use RightFind Business Intelligence to get an enterprise-wide view of content usage and spend, contact us today


Author: Casey Pickering

Casey Pickering is a Product Marketing Manager in CCC’s Publisher Business Unit. Casey develops go-to-market strategies, conducts market research, creates customer personas, drives strategic marketing efforts, and develops product positioning to drive interest in our product offerings. A passionate Boston sports fan, Casey is a graduate of Northeastern University and enjoys spending time outside with her family including her Bernese Mountain Dog, Riggins.
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