The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism today (May 9) released an in-depth study of Web news behavior, using detailed Nielsen audience statistics. The study examines the top 25 news websites in the United States, drilling down into four areas of audience actions: how users get to the top news sites, how long they stay, how deep they go into a site and where they go when they leave. Among the findings:
— Even top news sites depend greatly on “casual users,” those persons who visit a few times per month and spend only a few minutes on the site.
— An ongoing core of loyal and frequent visitors to news sites return more than 10 times per month and spend more than an hour there.
— At five of the top sites, Facebook is the second or third most important driver of traffic. Twitter, on the other hand, barely registers.
“All of this suggests that news organizations might need a layered and complex strategy for serving audiences and also for monetizing them,” note the study’s authors, Kenny Olmstead, Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel. “They may need, for instance, to develop one way to serve casual users and another way for power users. They may decide it makes sense to try to convert some of those in the middle to visit more often. Or they may try to make some of their loyal audience stay longer by creating special content.”