Case study: content type impact in driving local news traffic
Previously, we outlined the keys to Village Media’s success in a comprehensive case study. As a follow-up investigation, we’ve gone deeper into working to understand what types of content the Village Media editorial team creates, which proportion of each type, and how content type impacts pageviews.
Content Type Proportions
Across the Village Media network, the table below lays out the proportion of articles by content type, from August of 2021. Note: this excludes obituaries, classifieds, homepages, and all other non-article content.
Impact Of Content Type
When looking at this data, a few takeaways that jump out:
Original reporting is generally more time intensive, but this time yields substantial returns: though it’s only 16% of Village Media’s articles published, it makes up almost 70% of pageviews. From these analytics, we can conclude that original reporting is key to the success of a local news site. However, original reporting alone is not enough: there’s another additional 30%+ of pageviews Village Media is able to drive from other types of content.
Press Releases and Re-writes jump out next at 10% and 13.7% respectively. These two types of content drive another 20%+ of Village Media’s pageviews. Interestingly, these two content types make up a much smaller percentage of Village Media’s content, only ~5% of the articles. And Re-writes in particular drive even more pageviews than Original Reporting does! From this data, the team plans to continue to publish Press Releases when available, if relevant to the local community. And to invest further in Re-Writes, which are less time intensive for the staff, and appear to yield just as much interest in the local community as original reporting.
Sponsored content is handled by the sales team, and written by freelance journalists. Though the goal of this content is to yield advertising returns, good sponsored content is still interesting to community members as well, generating 0.5% of pageviews, with just over 600 pageviews per article.
The final two types of content are Syndicated and User Generated content. Syndicated content requires little to no effort from the editorial content, as the content is ingested via feeds. Though it only drives 5.6% of pageviews, and has the lowest average pageviews per article (22 pageviews), this traffic is achieved at very low cost. Additionally, pulling in Syndicated content helps keep the site feeling fresh and up to date when newer content types aren’t yet available. User Generated content also requires limited editorial effort, and yields decent audience interest (445 pageviews per article). Similarly, this content type could be worth investing in further.
In summary, we can conclude from this analysis of Village Media’s content types that though original reporting is the core of driving users to your local news site, adding in other types of content can help with site freshness (e.g. syndicated content), monetization (e.g. sponsored content), and can drive a substantial amount of additional traffic to your site (30%+).