10.12.2007

EyeTrack-izzle

The huge turnout this year has left many of the sessions at standing room only -- much to the disappointment of MacBook users with Internet separation anxiety -- so it was much appreciated to see Sara Quinn and Pegie Stark Adam's EyeTrack '07 presentation take place in the Imperial Ballroom. There was a stunning turnout; it looked to me like we were pretty close to capacity.

Simply put, EyeTrack '07 is the most comprehensive and detailed study of how readers read. Ever.

Sara and Pegie's presentation gave the audience an overview of the study's findings. There's so much information analyzed that we were treated to the highlights. They discussed how well read large headlines were compared to small headlines, the difference in reader habits in broadsheet presentation against tabloid presentation, print reader habits vs. online reader habits... the study goes on forever. It's very valuable information for newspapers, and you can buy the book here. It's filled with more statistics than a baseball abstract.

The lowdown:
Would you believe that readers read more of the text of an online story than a print story?
And wow, get this: they read the jumps!
Broadsheet readers are a bit more diligent in their reading than tabloid readers, but tabloid readers are more likely to follow those jumps.
Mugshots and column sigs are almost totally ignored.
Briefs are well read, but if a visual is included, that same brief is read 34% more often.
Color photos blow black and white photos out of the water.

It also would appear that alternative story forms have evolved to more than just a hotly debated acronym (ALTs? ASTs?); Poynter confirms that readers reading "chunky" text stories -- articles that rely on Q and A's, timelines, quizzes, etc... -- retained a significantly higher percentage of the information than readers who read the same story in a traditional form.

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Also: Curiously, there have been multiple reports of the Internet not working in the ballroom. Separation anxiety, indeed.

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