There Is No Slideshow In This Post

It’s hard to imagine a large news site these days that hasn’t gone for the ol’ paginated slideshow post. Something with lots of visuals? Why keep them all in one place, force the user out of the reader or their docile single page viewing and with each click, voila, a new PV and increased time on site.

They are the bane of many a HuffPo reader’s existence. It’s why The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal leads his excellent post on the topic with what may be my current favorite chart:

The piece was inspired by news that Washington Post President Steve Hills was actually encouraging the use of slide shows to juice PVs as a measure of readership, which, as Madrigal notes, somewhat bucks the industry trend of the last few years to stop measuring by page view and start counting unique visitors (a much more robust sense of the reach of a site). Madrigal’s words on what this is all about:

If you’re trying to juice page views, your staff will ineluctably be forced to make galleries. Where else can they get a 10x or 20x multiplier on their work? I can guarantee you that will not help you break the kinds of stories or do the kinds of analysis that will keep people coming back. Not only that, but it’s demoralizing to your best people, the ones who want to be out there producing their best work.

Worse, readers may click through your slideshow, but they’ll hate you a liiitttle bit more than they did when they got to the site. And I bet they’ll feel the same way about whatever advertiser was unlucky enough to get stuck on the page with some stupid thing that a reporter did with a little bit of hate in his heart and fingertips.

This is still the old math of the industry, at the end of the day. It’s circulation as ad inventory, and if you can boost “circulation” with a simple trick or multiplier, you’re going to.


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