Rolling news channels and the internet now bring us the news 24/7, but this doesn’t mean our eyes are glued to the screen 24/7. We pick and choose when to digest the latest updates which causes a bit of a headache for publishers. Working out the best time to publish banners – in order for there to be engagement and maximum conversion – on news sites is tricky, so I turned to SimilarWeb PRO to investigate any trends in the days that people absorb the news on cnn.com, wsj.com, huffingtonpost.com and nytimes.com.
Offline events such as major news stories can cause huge peaks in web traffic, so to minimize these creating off-kilter results, I looked at the level of daily desktop visits to the four sites for the last three months. As you can see, there’s a nice array of peaks and troughs over this period to indicate where the busy periods fall.
I used the Excel function on SimilarWeb PRO to export the daily visit data to a spreadsheet where I could sort the data and find the biggest peaks by date. The dates for each month varied between the different sites indicating that this was due to user habits rather than an offline trends such as breaking news stories.
Now that I had a selection of dates to examine, I analyzed them a little further to discover which day of the week these peaks fell upon. These figures revealed some interesting trends. Firstly, the busiest day for peak visits is Wednesday which highlights either strong marketing campaigns and/or the consumer’s interest in news peaking midweek. Another very interesting trend is that the first half of the week is the most popular period for reading the news online. Finally, aside from the New York Times, there were no peaks recorded over the weekend period in 3 months.
Making sense of user habits
It’s understandable that the weekend is a quiet period for news websites; during the week, people are confined to their workplace where it’s likely there’s no TV or radio. The web is the only real news resource to hand, so it’s no surprise traffic peaks during the week. The results gathered from SimilarWeb PRO speak for themselves – the best days for publishers to display banners on news sites are Monday to Thursday. In particular, Wednesday is, by far, the most popular day, so targeting this day is key to engaging the maximum amount of readers. The weekend is a very quiet time indeed for news sites, so banners would be less effective on these days. Analyzing user habits, therefore, can be seen as an essential part of your marketing strategies in order to maximize conversion.