Friday October 14th || by Tim Ruder

At Taboola, we have a lot of data to tap into. Not only do we use it to target individual consumers with relevant content, it also gives us a unique window into the overall zeitgeist of online news. The sheer scale of our data lets us ask what people are reading, how interests are changing, and what specific audiences care about.

That big-picture look can be enormously valuable to publishers to build and grow audiences. That’s why we shared our perspective at the Online News Association conference in Denver back in September. There, we looked into readership of stories focused on – who else – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as well as a handful of other high-profile stories. Our analysis showed how a web-wide look at readership patterns can inform publisher decisions on content optimization and distribution.

Here are a few examples:

Know thine enemy.  

When it comes to political content, the data can be counterintuitive. Our analysis showed that red state readers read more about Clinton, blue state readers read more about Trump, and swing state readers are balanced between the two. This trend is even more exaggerated on publisher sites with clear liberal/conservative leanings.

Pokemon went.  

Prior to the launch of Pokemon Go, the audience for stories about the app was tiny and fan-heavy. At launch, interest and coverage soared, but sentiment moderated as the audience became broader. Post launch, fan-boy enthusiasm returned, but general interest and traffic faded. Coverage, however, stayed high as publishers overestimated how long the story’s broad appeal would last.

Stamina pays.

While lingering too long on a story can be a problem, so can abandoning it too soon. One publication we studied captured early interest from readers on the Epi-Pen pricing controversy, but lost momentum after the third day of the story, reducing coverage. Interest, however, remained high, and we estimate their readership could have tripled had they devoted adequate resources to continuing coverage.

The takeaways? It’s possible to capture a high percentage of readership on stories others are covering if you use data to understand what they care about and you don’t give up too early. Understanding trends across the web can help you assess your own audience focus and interest level so you can more intelligently assign resources to your coverage – and reach your goals. Using data from our vast network, we help publishers build and grow audience by identifying stories that will resonate – and then shifting weight toward them at the right time.

Tim Ruder

Managing Director of Audience Development at Taboola.