News out to drive more traffic

From halo effects to social media sharing and pop ups, there is a considerable number of tools available along with copious research that goes into creating a successful news website.

It is these resources and research that News Corp Australia is harnessing in order to create the best possible platform for its online news offerings – and maximise reader engagement.

“It’s like any machine, if you don’t service it regularly then you don’t get the performance you expect of it,” said Nathan Moyes, head of media products and operations.

Mr Moyes, Leo Hillary, media product and operations manager, and their digital teams are in the process of trialling new ways to drive traffic to News’ online offerings in both metropolitan and regional areas.

Every element of the sites from weather icons to opinion dinkuses are shuffled around, tested, checked and changed to boost traffic, time-on-site and the reading experience.

To trial new ideas, a process called “AB testing,” where half of our web visitors are shown a page without changes and the other half are shown a tweaked page.

The volume of traffic to News sites means that it’s clear within hours if a tweak is driving new clicks.

“We can make changes on the fly, test them within the space of a day and roll them out,” Mr Hillary said.

The websites, mobile and online, are now faster because each day the code behind them is being simplified and refined.

All of this is happening while what Mr Moyes calls “the plumbing” is rolled out to News’ regional mastheads, and The Australian, giving the websites similar architecture.

“We have more content, more ads, a cleaner look with more access to video and other content,” Mr Hillary said.

What the News team has discovered

  • More stories are being shared, since pop-up icons were introduced when readers hover over stories
  • Eyes are drawn to the left of web pages. In print, eyes draw towards right hand pages.
  • Popular stories generate a “halo effect” of clicks on nearby ads and stories.

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