Audience Engagement Digital Publishing Top Stories
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“Building a path to audience loyalty”: Why publishers need to focus on increasing engaged time

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Engagement is on the rise, according to Chartbeat’s global audience insights from the first quarter of 2022. “The first quarter of 2022 saw reader engagement improve despite decreases in pageviews from mobile devices and social platforms,” writes Jack Neary, Content Manager, Chartbeat. 

“Readers prefer discovering content on mobile devices”

Most regions tracked by Chartbeat registered more than 30 seconds of Average Engaged Time. Latin America led for the second quarter in row with an average of 34.7 seconds of engaged time per reader. 

Mobile referrals experienced small dips of about 1-2% down in most regions. Central Asia and Africa led with 87% and 84% of their pageviews coming from mobile devices. Even the lowest performing region i.e., Central/ Eastern Europe received 67% of their pageviews from mobile. However, this region along with Southern Europe witnessed increase in search referrals.

Our research has shown the move to mobile as a years-long trend, and despite some minor decreases over the last six months, the vast majority of readers prefer discovering and engaging with content on mobile devices.

Jack Neary, Content Manager Content Manager, Chartbeat

Africa registered the highest percentage of pageviews from social platforms (20%) followed by Latin America (19%) and North America (18%). European countries received between 12-14% of their pageviews from social. 

However, European publishers saw highest loyalty levels. European regions had 40-48% of traffic come from loyal readers—those who return to a site at least 50% of the days in a two-week period.  

“Our recent analysis of audience data from the past three years found that outside of Q2 2020, engagement has not been keeping pace with traffic,” notes Neary. “With many regions seeing incremental increases in engagement last quarter, it will be important to build on this momentum with strategies for increasing engaged time even further.”

“Hundreds of thousands more monthly readers”

It can be done using audience data to optimize content to keep readers engaged and improve recirculation. Nick Lioudis, Ex-Senior Content Manager, Chartbeat recommends the following three steps: 

  1. Leveraging historical data to understand where readers tend to drop off
  2. Reviewing content and determining areas for improvement or experimentation
  3. Having the infrastructure in place for timely execution

“Even for publishers who have experienced modest growth in engagement, now is not the time to stop experimenting with new content formats and presentations,” adds Neary. “The methods for sustaining engagement are unique to every site, but optimization tools like headline and image testing can surface the data necessary to inform decisions that improve engagement and lead to increased loyalty.”

Swiss publisher Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), used insights from real-time scroll depth data to increase engagement. The data indicated that images may be deterring readers from deeper reading leading the publisher to conduct visual experiments. Images in lengthy articles were moved downwards leading to a 4% increase in readers engaging with the article until the end.

“Don’t be fooled by the percentage,” comments Lioudis, “you’re now talking about hundreds of thousands more monthly readers that are engaged with your content instead of dropping off your site.”

The discovery process – understanding your readers to know where optimizations will have the greatest impact — is crucial to building a path to audience loyalty.

Nick Lioudis, Ex-Senior Content Manager, Chartbeat