In Fake News Era, Quality Online Publishers Leap Ahead In Engagement

All media is not created equal. All of us in content creation know this -- but it seems hard to remind advertisers, agencies and networks that the cheap and cheerful units they can buy across the internet do not always represent the best value.

There has been a lot of research to back this axiom. Most recently, Newsworks demonstrated that the premium inventory available from quality newspapers represents better engagement, and so better ROI, than the -- as they put it -- "cheap as chips" inventory also available out there.

So it's good to see the World Media Group has been using benchmarks from Moat that show inventory from its members outperformed the internet average by between 16% to 73% in Q3 of 2017. Its members, you see, are a who's who of decent, quality journalism. You've got The Economist, Bloomberg, Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME and Reuters in there for starters.

The point they are out to prove is that engagement on these premium titles is likely to be far higher than a run-of-the-mill page found on the long tail of content that programmatic machines are bidding on every microsecond. 

In more detail, then, dwell time on a WMG member desktop page is 72% higher than Moat's benchmark for the rest of the internet, and the in-view time for an unit shows an increase of 51%. Mobile dwell time is up 26% and inventory in-view rate is 39% greater than average.

There is a whole bunch of data out there with the study about basically how more engaging quality journalism -- and how, in turn, this means the page an ad is on is likely to be viewed for longer. 

If you do go through the stats, the most interesting part is that this is a trend that is accelerating. Quality titles are pulling away from the rest of the internet. Dwell time and in-view rates are not only up on last year for WMG members, but they are further ahead the internet average than the year before.  

So if we have learned one thing this week, it's that it isn't just us. People in the media -- the people who create content -- have known that articles in quality titles will always be more engaging than the long tail of clickbait that is clearly there to encourage that many pages are skipped through rather than to ensure a reader feels entertained or better informed. 

It is encouraging to not only see this proven, but also to establish that it is a trend on the move -- it's accelerating. That can only be good news for quality journalism and for advertisers who need to reach engaged audiences who want to know what is going on in the world, rather than trying to establish what Star Wars character their initials suggest they should be. 

Research keeps showing that in the fake news era, there is a corresponding flight to quality. This most certainly adds to the body of work and is very reassuring. 

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