News Site Bounce Rates Are Irrelevant to Digital Advertising

For many of my clients, local and regional news sites present the best opportunities for small business owners and non-profits to reach a large audience at a reasonable cost. An added benefit is that we can track the ad and provide insight and analytics, fancy terms for data that tells us how well your ad performs. We can change up the messaging if things are not performing as well as we intended, something that would be costly to do in print, and we can ensure that the ad is being seen consistently over a period of time and across the the entire website rather than just one page.

The beauty of a news site is that it is the digital space where the broader community hangs out. This is where families visit to find high school sports scores. This is where readers go to learn about local politics and school board initiatives. Often, it is the only place to find local traffic updates specific to a neighborhood or intersection off the main arteries, and any fires or weather related issues will be reported here first. Utilizing this space for advertising means that the people who live and work closest to your business will see you as a neighbor in the spaces they occupy.

Understandably, business owners want to be sure their ads are seen and that they have invested their marketing spend wisely. The biggest objection I hear comes from people who heard about the nefarious “bounce rate”. I agree that bounce rates are important to consider when making the decision between different news sites or even between web sites in general, but there are some critical factors to keep in mind when examining a “high bounce rate” on a news site.

I argue that a well used and respected news site SHOULD have a high bounce rate. If online users are loyal to that brand, they will visit the site several times throughout the day to follow a developing weather story, or a traffic issue, or even a school closing. Developing stories of interest to the community will drive readers to visit and revisit the site throughout the day, creating a high bounce rate that has absolutely no impact on the value of your digital display advertising. If managed properly, the ad will be metered and posted effectively across all pages on the site, not just that day’s big story. Managed properly, the advertising will be prominently available for many readers across a variety of devices (mobile, tablets, desktops) throughout the day for the entire duration of the advertising run.

Consider some other variables that truly reflect the value of a news site’s reach and performance.: Circulation (the number of unique visitors to that site every month) and Page Views. Those numbers really tell the story of that website. Does the number of readers reflect a significant quantity of the overall population in the community? Are readers showing up once a month to get news, or are they returning three or four times to consume their news? The news site that has people consistently returning is likely to show a high bounce rate. It is also more likely to be a valued, respected resource, and an excellent place to run your advertising.