Should User Engagement Come at the Expense of Pageviews?

MSNBC Redesign Rolls the Dice on New Content Strategy

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MSNBC.com is rolling out a redesign of its site that has raised a few eyebrows. The reason for this is the shift in focus from pageviews to user engagement. The site has moved to a one-page format, and has traded in banner ads for a different approach.

There’s no question that user engagement is a good thing and can attract advertisers, but should this be at the expense of pageviews? That’s a risk MSNBC is clearly willing to take. The Seattle Times has a couple quotes from the site’s VP of creative development:

MSNBC.com gets redesign The redesign may lead to fewer page views. Instead of maximizing the number of pages users visit, MSNBC.com is trying to increase time spent on pages by enabling them to read text, watch views, peruse photo galleries and comment in one place, said designer Ashley Wells, the site’s vice president of creative development.

"The quality of the ad impressions goes way up, the engagement with the user goes up," Tillinghast said. "If that means fewer page views, we’re fine with that."

PaidContent quotes a rep from MSNBC as saying, "Msnbc.com is in the business of selling advertiser experiences, not ad units."

The move is getting others throughout the news industry talking. "It is a distinctive approach," says Kirk LaPointe, managing editor of the Vancouver Sun. "Where most others encourage — and require — click-throughs to launch photo galleries and most of the text content (to garner page views to serve up ad impressions), MSNBC.com has determined its strategy will be to focus heavily on the front page and to attract advertising and sponsorship support to it."

The redesign has reportedly gone "fully live", but it’s not done rolling out as far as I can tell, mainly because I’m not seeing it yet.

What do you think of MSNBC’s strategy? Smart or risky?
Comment here.

Should User Engagement Come at the Expense of Pageviews?
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  • Mike

    They’re really reducing their pageviews from me… They’ll be a big fat 0 from now on. I actually prefer reading the news instead of the multimedia stuff. (Cube farms don’t have great privacy)

    They’ve made their pages unreadable, so I’m going to Yahoo News.

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