Only One Fifth of Online News Stories are Actually Read: New Study Illustrates Differences Between Clicks and Reading

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Online readers don't read the stories they click. Based on new research by Finnish feature story discovery service Scoopinion, on average only 17% of all digital news articles are read through.

“When I look at my reading profile page at Scoopinion, I notice that I have favorite sources I always read really carefully.”

Online readers don't read the stories they click. Based on new research by Finnish feature story discovery service Scoopinion.com, on average only 17% of all digital news articles are read through.

Long magazine articles are read even less than that. "There are huge differences between different stories, though" says head researcher Johannes Koponen from Scoopinion. He claims that some articles are really engaging and interesting to the readers, and some aren't.

“When I look at my reading profile page at Scoopinion, I notice that I have favorite sources I always read really carefully.” He says that it is both the entertaining writing style and the topics these authors cover that hook him to read their stories all the way through.

Every minute there are 98,000 new tweets on Twitter, 20,000 new posts on Tumblr, 1,500 new blog entries and over 25 hours of new material on Youtube and the numbers are growing rapidly. We simply don't have time to spent reading irrelevant news pieces.

"Attention seeking headlines are actually wasting hours of our time and years and years worth of efficient working time if we look at the the society at large. No one talks about this as a responsibility for journalists", states Koponen. "We are now learning to recognise the irritation of clicking something and then instantly closing the tab."

Headline baiting will no longer work. Low read-through rates hint that readers are often unmoved by the magazine content they are reading, and it is the new responsibility for journalists to step up and meet reader expectations. According to Scoopinion, readers spent 64 seconds on average on stories they do not read through. This indicates that there is a need for stronger, better written content. It is false to blame the reader for attention disorder - it is just a more challenging playfield.

Filtering the daily content more intelligently would offer readers more fitting content, thus increasing read-through rates. Each day thousands of quality stories are published on the web. People want to read these stories and other content that interests them, but they do not have the right tools to find them easily.

It is not enough to use social media to filter out relevant news pieces, because readers share stories to build their identities instead of recommending quality content. According to Dan Zarrella, almost one in every five tweets generates more retweets than clicks. This suggests many people pass on a link without looking at it, and perhaps even worse, vetting it.

"We at Scoopinion are offering a new intelligent approach to try and solve this issue. Our users have spent four times as much time reading stories they find at Scoopinion in comparison to stories found elsewhere", says Koponen.

At Scoopinion, users participate in crowdsourcing the media by discovering stories. The add-on is able to tell whether the story is engaging and immersive by following the total community behavior such as total scrolling and time spent on each part of each story. The community guarantees that only the stories that are engaging and immersive are found at Scoopinion.

In addition to using the data to harvest the engaging stories, the Finnish team of five entrepreneurs is now giving the data back to each individual user. “Personal reading data is a great way to reflect and learn about your own actions.” Scoopinion CTO Ville Sundberg says.

Scoopinion personal profile page visualization shows the sources a reader really spends most time reading. “We are rolling out features as we speak. Soon there will be individual authors as well.” Sundberg says. Scoopinion users can use this personal data to learn about their reading behavior. “It’s quite revealing to see in one chart what sources influence my opinions. I was surprised.”

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Johannes Koponen
johannes.koponen@gmail.com
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