Driving homepage traffic: does aggregation pay?

At Metro, we like to think that we have the best content on the internet covered.

The truth is though, that if we can’t copy it we ignore it. We never have headlines on the homepage that link directly to another site.

The truth is that there are a lot of sites that do certain types of content better than us… content that fits with Metro’s personality, but doesn’t fit it’s philosophy of “don’t let the user leave Metro”.

Why would people use Metro as their homepage if they can get a better selection of content from Facebook? A few examples:

  • Shareable games. Some competitors, such as UsVsThem, dedicate themselves to shareable games. My favorite is the “North-o-meter” game.
  • Glitzy celebrity photo features. It’s hard to beat the MailOnline for this… they’ve proven the addictiveness of celebrity photos.
  • News with brains. Metro has it’s moments but i100 has the edge.
  • Shareable video with brains. Such as “2014: the year women won?” by The Guardian. (Yes, i know it’s The Guardian but it’s actually entertaining and bite-sized).
  • Shareable cartoons. There’s Oatmeal for that.
  • Shareable infographics. There’s Ampp3d for that.
  • Shareable ideas that might just change your life. TED.

From a user-centric perspective, featuring articles from other sites is a no-brainer. But what does it mean for traffic? What if we can do a quick experiment to find out…

The experiment

For 50% of our users, replace 1 in 10 news feed items with an article linking to another site. We can drop a cookie and see which group gets more return visits. We should run the experiment for five days.

There’s more…

Aggregation means more content, which also opens the door to personalization… but that’s an experiment for another time.

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