Talking Points
October 2021

Nobody Reads The Copy

Most of us boast about how much we read on the Internet. The trouble is, a lot of us are lying. Sure, we may click on a lot of links, read the headlines, and maybe even glance at a sentence or two. But statistics say that’s about the time most of us check out.

If you think we’re mistaken, just look at these numbers:

  • 38% of people who click on articles glance at the page and leave immediately
  • Another 5% who begin reading quickly give up within moments
  • Around 50% bounce out before reaching the fold (the point where scrolling is required)

So only a small fraction of those who click ever read the full article. Researchers offer different reasons for this, but it’s mostly because readers can’t remain focused. The Internet, it turns out, is ideal for those with short attention spans.

People Don’t Like Scrolling

You can read just about any study, and one undeniable fact stands out. Readers rarely scroll. The average online article is approximately 2000 pixels long on your computer screen. Among readers who actually bother to scroll, most only make it half way, or 1,000 pixels down, before calling it quits. Only 25% of them venture past pixel number 1,600.

Tweeting Isn’t Reading

When friends and contacts share articles, don’t assume they’ve read them. Because here’s one other thing the data suggests. People who tweet or share links with their followers seldom read the full articles themselves. In fact, there seems to be little correlation between sharing and reading. Articles that generate a lot of tweets are not the most read articles, and well-read articles aren’t necessarily the most tweeted.

The Silver Lining

There is one surprising detail to report, especially given all the facts about poor readership. Around two-thirds of the time that people do spend on a page is below the fold. Researchers attribute that to something you’ve probably heard countless times before. Poor quality content causes readers to bail out quickly, but good quality content will get them to keep on scrolling, and keep on reading.

Based on You Won’t Finish This Article by Farhad Manjoo.

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