ThePassiveVoice shared an article about a paper from the Web Conference related to metrics for how people read online posts, news articles, etc.
Interesting developments on how they are developing metrics based not on the clickbait sites that spread an article over several click-through pages so they can load more ads, but just how you go through a single article on the page.
Grinberg was able to identify five types of reading behaviors: “Scan,” “Read,” “Read (long),” “Idle,” and “Shallow” (plus bounce backs, in the case that someone gets to a page and almost immediately leaves). Not surprisingly, different kinds of news sites see different kinds of reading behavior. On the sports site, for instance, “we see there is a lot of scanning. I think what’s going on there is a lot of people go to sports sites in order to find a result, like the outcome of a game, and don’t read the full thing. Another example that stood out is the how-to site, where we see that there’s more idling — people read an article, idle for a little bit, then continue. From looking at the articles themselves, it looks as if people are following instructions on how to do something in the real world.” On the magazine site, meanwhile, people really seemed to be reading for extended periods of time.
SIG can be useful for publishers, Grinberg says, because it ends up being highly predictive of how engaged someone will be with an article, and they should consider it along the other metrics tracked by companies like Chartbeat. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” he said. “The magazine site provided a lot of information up front, and people still engaged in long reading. In contrast, for sports and financial sites, it seems like withholding information at the beginning is associated with longer reads. But publishers could start looking at SIG as they make decisions about strategy and experiment with different story structures to see what works for their audience.”
Some of the advanced stuff looks highly subjective to me as legitimate calculations (basically trying to estimate how quickly an article gets to a specific point and where it is in the article), and would vary drastically by writer and subject matter, not to mention whether it is truly “news” or mostly filler. But interesting nevertheless…