Recently, Digiday published a valuable investigation into why in the last couple of years, publishers including The Guardian and Le Monde have cut publishing frequency, and consequently observed rises in audience traffic, dwell time and subscribers. Here, we pull some key facts and figures that will be of interest to digital publishers. 

Chris Moran, The Guardian’s Editor of Strategic Projects, revealed to Digiday that the publisher detected a huge portion of its content went mostly unread. It cut its output by a third, which resulted in traffic growth, according to a tweet by Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner. In December 2018, The Guardian had 23.4 million monthly unique users in the UK. In December 2019, it boasted 25 million. 

Similarly, French publisher Le Monde reduced its published output by 25%, simultaneously growing its staff to 500 journalists. Its online readership grew by 11%, as did its print and digital circulation, according to Luc Bronner, Le Monde’s Managing Editor.

How do publishers gain readers by publishing less?

In short: because there’s a marked difference between digital and print news consumption habits. Readers tend to dedicate time to reading print publications cover-to-cover, but less time to individual articles online. If users read fewer articles online, publishers should dedicate all their time to ensuring that these articles are of the highest possible quality. Publishers have a tendency to produce more content than necessary in pursuit of revenue, but The Guardian and Le Monde have proven that this isn’t strictly necessary.

Here’s what media analyst Thomas Baekdal had to say:

“Whether a digital magazine publishes 100, 500, or 1,000 articles makes no difference. It’s the quality and interest of the articles that matter instead. We see this clearly on YouTube, where the most popular YouTubers rarely post more than once or twice a day. Publishers look at this, do the analysis, and they discover that when they cut away the not valuable, nobody realizes that it is gone.”

When it comes to tracking the success of this new approach, publishers can begin tracking time spent over clicks and page views. “These analytics show a clearer path to subscriptions”, according to The Post and Courier

Digiday’s full investigation is available to read now.