Shocking News: Online Readers Actually Have An Attention Span

from the and-it's-not-that-short dept

There’s been plenty of talk the web shortening people’s attention spans, but the latest Eyetrack study from the folks at the Poynter Institute has found instead that online news readers are actually much more likely to read to the end of news stories than those who are reading news stories offline. Of course, it’s not that hard to figure out why: newspapers lose an awful lot of readers when they put in a “go to page 14 to continue.” It ruins the entire flow of reading a news story, and it’s the point at which anyone who’s not fully engaged simply gives up. Still, it does say something that people do tend to read to the end of online news stories, rather than being quickly distracted by the next random viral video on YouTube.


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Comments on “Shocking News: Online Readers Actually Have An Attention Span”

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20 Comments
willie lump lump says:

Re: Webpages lose readers too

Agree. Sites that do this often have bad formatting and lots of ads to slow down rendering the page. Each click on the “2|3|4|5 next” is an opportunity to re-evaluate if the article is giving you what you are seeking. I have noticed it affects whether I finish an article or not.

SmartAssWhizKid says:

Re: Re: Webpages lose readers too

“Agree. Sites that do this often have bad formatting and lots of ads to slow down rendering the page. Each click on the “2|3|4|5 next” is an opportunity to re-evaluate if the article is giving you what you are seeking. I have noticed it affects whether I finish an article or not”

I never click to page two. Reuters is terrible for this.

AC says:

It's not what is read, it's where...

I think there’s one huge difference: newspapers are predominantly read during a person’s leisure time, whereas a lot of online articles are read at work. So I think the competition for one’s time isn’t quite fair in this study: when a person’s reading a newspaper article, he might stop early because he’s watching TV at the same time, or decides to do something else entertaining. If he’s reading an article at work, it’s often a diversion from…work.

Casper says:

Literate?

Are they sure that everyone they test were reading? I know I pretend to read a lot when I’m at work, but really I’m sleeping with my eyes open. Also, before my coffee, I have been known to follow lines of text with my eyes as if I were reading, but not actually see any of it.

Just to add to my random thought; I hate news papers. They keep delivering it to my place and I can’t make them stop. One of these days I’m going to cram it down the paper boys throat. It’s like people handing out fliers and pamphlets… they are basically saying “Here, you throw this away”.

Yeah, it’s random, I make a little more sense after I have my coffee.

TheDock22 says:

Re: Literate?

I hate news papers.

I totally agree. They aren’t good for anything save the Sunday ads and making silly paper viking hats for a sporting event. Oh wait, occasionally I use a newspaper to cover the floor when I’m working on a craft project. But actually reading it and getting black ink all over my hands?

No thanks, I’ll stick with my super-clean keyboard (I disinfect and clean is daily).

scuzzbukket says:

This is so hurtful and offensive

You know I’m really offended by this story. To say that I ,as an internet user don’t have much of an attention span.
I think that is just wrong…is that girl bending over not wearing any panties…
anyway, I lost track of what I was saying, but if I know most readers of this section, they will only read the first sentence anyway.
So who cares.

Ted Goas (user link) says:

Online Stories Less Imtimidating Than Newspapers?

I don’t know, are they? I rarely read newspapers, and almost never follow articles in magainzes to the back section. However, I read an hour or two of news online each day. While the articles that have 5 or more pages usually lose me after the first page, I almost always read articles to the end. I never thought about it, but after reading the original story, the study’s findings make complete sense to me.

Webpages do lose readers, but many are designed not too (as many commenters have pointed out).

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