How the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected Readership in India

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2020 was quite the year, and the Coronavirus pandemic changed readership patterns and people paid closer attention to certain topics which affected us on an individual and collective basis. 

We looked at concerns that became top of mind for readers in India, which were new, and which we hadn’t seen before.

We focused on trending topics within our network of publisher partners in India to understand the interests and concerns of readers.

A surge in page view traffic to articles on specific subjects over the past few months showed some of the ways that living with a global pandemic heightened awareness of certain topics among Indian readers last year. 

Life without TikTok

Indian fans of TikTok reacted with collective horror and sorrow when the government banned the popular short-form video app over national security concerns on June 29. 

The day immediately after the TikTok app-ban saw a surge in pageview traffic. 

 

Everyone’s glad that cricket is back

The coronavirus caused a long layoff from live sports across the world. 

Indian cricket fans breathed a sigh of relief when the cricket season was reinstated on 19 September, recording almost 17M page views across the Taboola Network on the opening day of the season in UAE. 

 

 

The delivery race is on

Traffic to articles about e-commerce and delivery service apps consistently saw high traffic across the Taboola Network between March to November, reflecting the shift to online services for shopping and food delivery.  

Boost my immunity 

Articles on immunity-boosting foods and natural remedies saw a surge in traffic in early July right after the strict lockdown was lifted in India. 

Headlines such as “Five-minute recipes with turmeric to boost immunity during coronavirus pandemic” and “Add these 5 winter foods to your diet to boost immunity, reduce risk of diseases like common cold, flu” were examples of articles people sought as the pandemic continued.

 

 

All eyes on farmers’ protests

Taboola Newsroom’s Terms Explorer feature helps publishers identify terms and interlinking topics that are most read or written about in the open web.

A search on Terms Explorer showed that the term “farmers” had an over 1,000% increase in pageviews when the amount of traffic was compared between September and December.

The farmers have carried out protests, demanding for the repeal of new farm laws which they said would affect their earnings. The protests, which started in August, intensified in December and publications in India have reported extensively on developments.

Despite the other COVID-19 related concerns which dominated headlines, this surge in pageview traffic within a small window garnered the same amount of pageview traffic as coronavirus-related articles during the same period.

The data implies that while living through a global pandemic can cause significant shifts in readership habits, the sudden escalation of news coverage related to the farmers’ protests put such news on equal footing as coronavirus-related updates.

While these trends focus on Indian readership, the dataset is based on several thousands of news sites around the world that partner with Taboola.

Taboola’s news publisher partners have access to data on trending topics in the Topic Insights part of Taboola Newsroom, our real-time audience analytics platform.

There’s also a publicly available version of Topic Insights on our Taboola Trends page.

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