Eyes Have It: ‘Golden Coin’ Attracts Attention

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A  woman participating in the survey

During the Online News Association (ONA) Conference in Atlanta,  the Poynter Institute, an international strategy center and leader in journalism education, presented EyeTrack – Tablet Research on how people use iPad to read news.  One of the key findings was that readers stop reading a story on a webpage between 80-90 seconds. The research recommends that content creators introduce “a golden coin” to encourage readers to complete long stories.Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 11.55.53 AM

A golden coin is a visual element that keep the reader engaged about halfway through the long story.  The visual element can be a pullout quote, tweet, still photo, a video, or an interactive design, explain Sara Quinn, one of the researcher.

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The study found that people scan 18 items on the home page before choosing the story with a dominant element. Then they spent 98.3 seconds on the story if they are interested in it but only 78.3 seconds if they are not. The study calls the period between 80-90 seconds  “the bail out point” and recommends offering something  to keep them reading.

Are news and corporate websites applying this rule?

An online ebusiness knowledge database, Ebzmba, listed Yahoo News, CNN, Huffington Post, Google and New York Times as the best news websites in 2013.  Here is how the top five news websites apply the “golden coin” principle.

yahoo article

In a story, Outrage Over Burning Twin Towers Halloween Costume worn by Teens, Yahoo News used a video as a dominant feature at the beginning  of the article. It took 80 seconds reading the article before hitting the golden coin as indicated above. The golden coin was a photo of the same twins.

In the Huffington Post, the story on marijuana opened with a video as a dominant element. I took 70 seconds to hit the golden coin. The golden coin is a tweet and a photo.

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All the top five news websites are using the the golden coin principle to various degrees.  Some websites introduce the coin before the 80 second mark.  Here is a summary of the articles I read from the top five news sites.

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What’s your experience reading online news?  Does the golden coin encourage you to continue reading a story?

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