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BizReport : Research : March 29, 2007

Study: Not all news surfers are skimmers

According to a new study by Poynter’s, online news readers read more, and more deeply, than their newspaper browsing counterparts.

by Helen Leggatt

The key findings of the report, EyeTracker07, is that online news readers read a greater percentage of a story than print readers (77 percent online vs 62 percent for broadsheets and 57 percent for tabloids), and nearly two-thirds of online readers read all of a story they selected.

Readers’ eye movements were tracked as they read through broadsheets, tabloids and online publications for 15 minutes each, several times a week over a 30-day period. The results revealed how long readers spent with the stories they picked, as well as many other reading patterns.

It has previously been reported that the attention span of online readers was that of a goldfish, and that the distractions of such a plethora of content affected focus. However, compared with the EyeTrack07 results show that almost two-thirds of online readers read all the text of a particular story once they started to read it, 68 percent of tabloid readers and 59 percent of broadsheet readers did so.

The study also found that print readers are more methodical. Online readers scan more by a margin of about 25 percent.

A video presentation of the EyeTrack07 study results can be viewed online, as can a brochure and slideshow presentation.

Tags: attention span, content, EyeTrack07

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