How Publishers Can Leverage Current Trends in Audience Behavior

July 17, 2014

With all the focus on audience behavior in online media,  it’s exciting that we have a variety of tools at our fingertips for learning more about how people behave online, and more specifically how we can better engage our audiences. But, how do we do that—once we have that information, how can we best put it to work for us?  Let’s start by looking at overall trends in audience behavior, across the Web.

3 Key Characteristics

millenial audience behavior

For starters, keep in mind 3 common qualities that can be applied to the majority of online consumers. They (or we): 

  • Are comfortable shopping in a cashless economy.
  • Access the web across multiple devices.
  • Use social media for their daily news, interacting with peers and shopping.

How are publishers responding?

  1. An eCommerce platform to present related products in context, supported by an intuitive and secure shopping cart ensures that your readers stay comfortable with the cashless economy and keeps them on your site for purchases.
  2. Mobile access continues to rise. Just look at the stats for Android. Expect nearly four times the devices sold by the end of next year to be running Android over Windows.
    The takeaway? Responsive design is a must—your readers WILL be accessing your content on a variety of devices, across multiple platforms.
  3. Just as your readers are accessing your content with devices other than a desktop browser, you'll need to accommodate methods to find your best content in addtion to search engines or bookmarking.
    When you look specifically at news and a recent survey about news consumption, it’s clear that readers aren’t overly particular about the organization or delivery platform for their news, but they still value the reliability and quality of the news itself. And, a healthy percentage of Americans still sign up for news alerts or go directly to news sites to access it, while simultaneously sharing and discussing that news on social media. The point?
  • Focus on quality and credibility.
  • Prioritize subscribers and automate alerts.
  • Integrate consistent social media tactics into your strategy to drive traffic to YOUR site.

A little more about quality of content:

Another new term, Reader Attention, as measured by time on site, is a huge indicator of audience behavior and presents several interesting insights for publishers. Ironically, simply paying attention to our own behavior would offer insights into engagement:

  • Most people who “click” don’t always read.
  • The majority of readers spend less than 15 seconds on a page.
  • Those articles that do engage readers tend to be real news.
  • Generic articles do not typically attract reader attention.
  • There is no relationship between how much an article is shared and how much attention it will actually get from a reader.
  • Articles still glean the majority of attention, over native ads.

Again, this analysis tells us that quality content motivates reader engagement — no matter how they get there.

Of course, it’s important to focus your tactics based on the type of audience your advertisers seek.