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Fewer mugshots, less naming and shaming: How editors in Cleveland are trying to build a more compassionate newsroom
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Sept. 27, 2018, 6 a.m.
Audience & Social

Are you more likely to click here?

or over here?

At the top of this article or down below, at the bottom?

We don’t want your finger to cramp so here’s the gist: News site visitors are more likely to make those recirculating taps when stories are grouped in a simply titled Related Stories module rather than a more tongue-twisting section (though we’re still partial to What We’re Reading), when at the bottom of the article (yay for reading finishers, or at least scroll-happy visitors), and when accompanied by images.

The Center for Media Engagement, which recently tested subscription appeals and trust indicators, ran some experiments with the seven local broadcast newsrooms that comprise Graham Media Group. The newsrooms — in Houston, Detroit, Roanoke, San Antonio, Orlando, and two in Jacksonville — participated in A/B testing over one week in March. The researchers studied the first recorded time each unique visitor went to the site, looking at 1.8 million observations total.

“Among those who first visited the site during the study period, 1.42 percent clicked on a link,” researchers Talia Stroud and Jessica Collier wrote. “Although this appears to be a low rate of engagement, content distribution sites like Outbrain suggest that healthy clickthrough rates are between 0.10 and 0.25 percent. The results of our study show that links can be designed to generate higher clickthrough rates. In fact, in nearly all instances, it didn’t matter which device was used, the specific news site visited, or even the referral page.”

The deets:

  • Link layouts containing images generated 63 percent more clicks than those that consisted of only text
  • Links at the end of a page generated 55 percent more clicks than links in the middle of a page
  • Overall, using related content instead of popular content led to a 14 percent increase in clicks
  • Popular content, however, generated more clicks when the referral page was Facebook
  • Generic wording (e.g. Related Stories) generated slightly more clicks than more complex
    wording (e.g. What Else People Can Read on This Topic)
  • It didn’t matter whether people used a smartphone, phablet, tablet, or desktop. It didn’t matter which site users visited. It didn’t matter which page referred them to the site. In all of these instances, there were more clicks when links (1) appeared at the end of articles, and (2) contained images.

The full report is available here.

Want to keep recirculating? Here’s a sampling of our click-y archive

 
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Fewer mugshots, less naming and shaming: How editors in Cleveland are trying to build a more compassionate newsroom
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