Readers Not Loving the Content Treadmill

digiday_expandedThe goal is sound: to keep the reader on the site, forestalling their inevitable bounce by feeding a running supply of story after story. To achieve this kind of stickiness, many publishers have incorporated the idea of the “infinite scroll” into their digital production.

The only catch? It appears that the readers are not enjoying the content treadmill.

“We understood the appeal of infinite scrolling, but there wasn’t a lot of extra browsing or consumption of stories happening after people clicked that first article,” said Forbes’ Lewis DVorkin to Ricardo Bilton of Digiday. “People were reading maybe one or two in the stream.”

Now, many publishers including Forbes, CNN and Wired are redesigning to avoid it.

“With its new article page redesign, for example, Forbes is moving away from presenting readers an endless list of posts,” Bilton notes. “Instead, it’s tweaking the formula so that it shows readers a continuous list of trending headlines, which it says offers readers better mobile reading experience and boosts the viewability of its ads.”

Other publishers are taking a more consciously-curative approach, like Travel + Leisure, which will begin offering stories that are contextually relevant rather than chronological.

For a magazine media brand, this makes absolute sense and should better appeal to the sensibilities of its readers. There is a logical layout to a curated magazine – which is one of the arguments we’ve made that digital content streams are not magazines, no matter what they call them – and relevance to the content around each story is vital.

Could this be the beginning of the end of the content fire hose? Too soon to make those kinds of predictions, but it is good to see that user trends confirm what we know about the importance of quality curation.