We Know You’re Reading This At Work You Know: Google’s Online News Explainer
ONE of the things that’s become increasingly apparent in the development of this ‘ere internet thing over the last couple of decades is that everyone’s reading it at work. We seem to have shifted the “finding out the news” thing away from free or leisure time into the working hours of the day and the week.
Anyone who has ever run a website knows this little point: traffic starts to rise from a particular timezone as people start to arrive at work in that timezone. UK traffic is pitiful before about 8.30 am and rises strongly after 9.30 am. It then falls away again around 5 pm. US traffic starts to rise around 8 am East Coast Time and continues to rise until the Californians get in several hours later.
And this is more than just a problem for our bosses as they get increasingly cheesed off that we’re not working during working hours. Here’s Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google:
When you look at loyal readers of paper newspapers, they tend to read the news during their leisure time; during breakfast, over the lunch hour, or in the evening. By contrast, online news is accessed throughout the day. In many cases, people glance at the stock prices, the sports scores, or the headlines between tasks, during commutes, or at coffee breaks. The good news is that online newspapers can reach their audience at times when they were not previously reachable. The bad news is that the readers don’t have a lot of time to devote to in-depth reading of news during these times. Less time reading the news means fewer ad exposures, and less revenue from ad impressions.
Because we’re snatching the time to surf from our employers’ budgets we’re therefore taking less time, being more rushed, in doing so.
Varian actually points out that if people spent as much time reading the online news as they do the offline then the newspapers would be able to pay for themselves through the greater ad revenue. So, in order to preserve our great newspapers you now need to surf more during working hours.
At least I think that’s what Varian is saying.
Photo :A crowd reads newspaper headlines of “Bombs Rain On Warsaw” as they stand outside the U.S. State Department building where diplomats hold a conference on war conditions in Europe in Washington, D.C., Sept. 1, 1939.