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.