News Sites Experiment With ‘Dayparting’ by Tailoring Content

Online news sites have long noticed a troubling drop-off in visitors during the evening hours. Last year, several newspapers got together with Minneapolis-based Minnesota Opinion Research Inc. (MORI) to find out exactly what was going on.

There was good news and there was bad news. In a study released in January, Rusty Coats, MORI’s director of new media, reported that the number of visitors to online news sites does drop off precipitously at the end of the workday.

The study found that people do visit the news sites in the evening and on weekends, just not in the same ways.

According to Coats, morning users are most interested in breaking, local, national, business and sports news. By afternoon, they start to look at movie times, maps, directions and offbeat news.
In the evening, viewers search the job listings, look at cars and real estate ads and do their online shopping.

News sites can take advantage of these trends, Coats said, by “dayparting” — posting different types of content at different times of the day.