When Does an Article’s Readership Peak?

Allison Horton

May 31st, 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • An article receives 76% of its readership within the first 3 days of publication, on average.
  • Readership typically peaks on the day of publication or the day following before quickly dropping off.
  • For topical news, readership is even more concentrated in the first 3 days (86%).
  • Communicators weighing responses or correction requests need to act quickly to capture readership

When Memo reports out article readership (i.e. unique visitors), we roll up a full seven days’ worth of readership under the article’s publish date. This allows comms teams to easily attribute engagement with earned media to specific periods of time.

But at what point does article readership peak?

We pulled a random sample of 1,110 articles published in March 2023 to illustrate when an article receives the majority of its readership. Publications sampled range from national and local news sites, lifestyle and entertainment outlets, political news, celebrity news, business and financial press, and more.

On average, an article receives 76% of its readership within the first 3 days of publication. 

We converted daily readership for each article in this sample to a percent of the article’s total readership, essentially normalizing all articles’ readership to 1. (This ensures the results aren’t skewed to articles with higher readership). 

Across the sample, articles received on average 65% of their readership within the day after publication, and 76% by two days after publication.

Article readership typically peaks on publication day or the next day.

Readership typically peaks on the day an article is published or the next day before tapering off. On average, articles received 38% of readership on publication day, 27% of readership the next day, and 11% the day after.

This is what the pattern looks like on average:

Each line in this stacked chart is one of 1,110 articles, with readership normalized to 1. Most articles’ readership peaked on publication day (day 1) or the next day (day 2).

Timely and topical news peaks earlier; these articles receive 86% of their readership within 3 days.

We isolated articles from publications focused on topical news, specifically current events and brand news of immediate interest as opposed to evergreen content. Among these publications (about 40% of our sample), we see the readership peak is even stronger earlier on. 

Topical news articles received 48% of their readership on publication day, 28% the next day, and 10% the day after that.

Each line in this stacked chart is one of 449 articles from topical news sites, with readership normalized to 1. Readership is highly concentrated in the first three days.

On average, articles from topical news sites get 86% of their readership within the first three days of publication and 95% of their readership within the first week.

Communicators should consider time from publication when weighing actions.

Knowing that the majority of readership happens in the first couple days of publication – especially for timely brand news – communicators should prioritize responses, correction requests, commentary, etc. ASAP. By two days post publication, readership has already dropped off.

Bonus product tip: view readership over time in article Detail Pages

Detail Pages surface article-level engagement data, including readership over the first seven days, for select publications in Memo’s dashboard.

Article and publisher details have been changed in this dashboard screenshot to protect non-public data.

Learn more about Memo’s approach to comms measurement.

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