April 9, 2007

Who reads the front page?

Filed under: journalism, media, newspapers, publishing — Rakesh Agrawal @ 6:14 pm

I was trying to determine how profitable Tribune’s online operations would be if they blocked sites from displaying links to their stories. The answer: “Not very.”

The stats for and (which have much stronger online operations than Tribune) are dismal. Of all the people who visit the site in a given month, less than 14% visit the home page, according to comScore data. For, that number is 20%.

People are getting to newspaper Web sites from a wide range of sources. Google News, the Drudge Report and the Huffington Post are among the top traffic drivers to, and The long tail of the blogosphere is also a heavy contributor.

Instead of trying to turn back time, newspaper companies need to embrace the link love and optimize that traffic to get the best possible return. I’ve talked about some of these techniques before: Making the most of search engine traffic and Adapting online newspapers to a search/Web 2.0 world.

Newspapers need to borrow techniques from direct marketers to convert those passing visitors into regular readers (or at least RSS feed subscribers). On that first hit from a new reader they need to:

  • Show them the story they came to see! Putting up a big firewall here is a wasted opportunity.
  • Deliver other stories the reader might be interested in. You know why they came – they might want more on that topic.
  • Make it easy to subscribe to your content on that topic. If someone lands on a Tom Sietsema restaurant review from a link, let them 1-click subscribe for the rest.
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  1. [...] Fragmentation is only going to accelerate. I’ve written about the small percentage of visitors to and that visit the home page. [...]

    Pingback by Living in a fragmented media world « reDesign — May 19, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  2. [...] Who reads the front page? [...]

    Pingback by NY Times launches My Times « reDesign — August 24, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  3. [...] of traffic to the Times and a key driver of the decision to make the content ad-supported. The vast majority of readers who visit the Times in a given month don’t visit the home page. What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search [...]

    Pingback by The Times unlocks its content « reDesign — September 18, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  4. [...] through search and social media. Those will remain free in the new model. Four years ago, only 20% of NYT visitors who viewed the front page. It’s likely a lot lower [...]

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