COVID-19 Surge Brings Renewed Interest From Readers

Posted by

The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States has brought readers back to news articles about coronavirus at levels unseen since the early months of the pandemic.

US traffic to coronavirus articles surpassed 1.4 billion pageviews among Taboola’s news partners in August, according to Taboola Newsroom’s Topic Insights. The readership of coronavirus articles is more than three times higher than the amount seen in June of this year.

August was the 4th highest pageview count for articles about coronavirus that we’ve seen after March, April, and May of 2020, when audiences were heavily reliant on news sites to help figure out how the pandemic was quickly impacting every aspect of everyday life.

If we chart the monthly traffic to articles about coronavirus and the CDC’s count of new Covid cases, we can see both reach a low point in June before quickly spiking in July and August as the highly transmissible delta variant spread.

*Note: Data for May 2021 is unavailable due to a system error.

(Source)

While it may seem like common sense that readership would spike along with cases, news traffic trends can often be counterintuitive. For instance, the extremely deadly wave of infections this past winter did not drive a commensurate surge in reader interest.

“Sustained attention is hard to maintain over time, no matter how objectively important a topic might be,” Nieman Lab Editor Joshua Benton wrote in an April 2020 article explaining the surprisingly brief initial spike in news traffic.

Even if interest dropped off faster than expected, we found coronavirus was still the most popular news topic of 2020.

The revived readership in August should send a strong signal to editors that readers are highly in need of updated information for the next era in a pandemic many hoped was waning.

Due to Taboola’s extensive partnerships with US publishers, from the biggest national and local TV news networks to the largest chains of newspapers, the readership data presented above represents a uniquely broad sample of what topics people are consuming on news sites.

Taboola’s readership data is available to our news publisher partners at no cost through Taboola Newsroom. We use natural language understanding AI to parse articles and determine the topics of all the articles people are reading on our partners’ sites and then organize the page views by topic.

Here’s a quick look at the Topic Insights dashboard for the past 30 days.

Doing research or reporting on interest in news topics? Feel free to DM @franberkman on Twitter if you think our readership data could help support your project.

Get Your Taboola Feed Today!