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The news topics driving today’s U.S. audience attention in six categories

July 8, 2020 | By Megan Morreale, Senior Content Marketing Manager – Taboola @MeganRoseM

The news topics driving audience attention look different today than they did in March. Covid-19 affected people in just about every part of their lives. Therefore, it affected the news cycle in almost every ad category.

The initial declaration of the global pandemic sparked a dramatic increase in traffic to publisher sites across the board. That traffic boom has since waned and we’re left with different audience interests.

We wanted to know exactly what those new interests look like. To do this, we dove into readership on the Taboola network of U.S. news publishers.

Taboola’s data includes audiences at more than 1,300 U.S. news websites including national, local, and digital-native organizations. The scope of the network offers a broad view of what’s capturing people’s attention. Here’s what we found:

Coronavirus continues to dominate news in almost every news category

Across all news categories, news about the global pandemic has declined. However, it still eclipses audience attention over any other topic.

Even as traffic levels out, news about the virus is still driving more traffic than other topics by almost a billion pageviews a day. And it’s likely to stick around.

Finance, Business and Industrial, & Real Estate

As the stock market fell, news audiences interested in finance, business, and real estate rushed to learn about investment opportunities, hear advice from the experts, and purchase shares.

Money management advice and the news about the real estate market—specifically whether or not it was a good time to buy or sell a home—came in after investment topics.

Society issues

Recent protests and events related to racism and the Black community in the U.S .have led to a surge in traffic regarding social institutions, racism, and crime.

These topics previously drove traffic for news sites. However, other topics like work, dating, and the impact of the Coronavirus on our society and wellbeing had been at the forefront.

The impact of Coronavirus created a surge in traffic around May, as states began to roll out plans for re-opening, marked in red in the graph above.

Science, Computing & Technology

Even when they’re staying inside, news audiences still want to hear about the weather. They are specifically interested in major weather events like tornadoes and storm clusters.

Recent news about internet technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have also captured their attention. They triggered an entirely new surge in traffic beginning in May, as these companies grapple with how to manage political content on their platforms.

It’s also worth noting that news related to new releases of mobile phones, personal computers, and other consumer technology continues to drive traffic for publishers.

Family and Parenting, Pets, & Home and Garden

For families, Coronavirus meant educating children at home, and in some cases, taking care of them during the workday. In tandem, for many people quarantine provided an opportunity to adopt pets, leading to an increase in traffic for topics related to pet care.

Shopping, Style & Fashion

Fashion companies really had to adapt as sales dropped and strategies shifted. Audiences are focused on clothing specifically, and the impact that the global pandemic will have on those brands.

They’re also tuned in to news related to big retailers. In particular, how their businesses are faring the recession, and whether or not they have plans for re-opening.

Arts & Entertainment

People’s plans to keep busy were entirely digital. And many publisher audiences were interested in the fate of the shows and events they could no longer attend.

Around May, those topics became just as interesting as news about movies and TV shows, a big source of entertainment for people in lockdown.

It’s worth noting the two gaping holes missing from these graphs. Sports and travel news cycles were entirely interrupted as both industries ground to a halt.

While some of these trends are specific to events in the recent months, others could impact publisher news cycles long-term. Keeping a pulse on the topics that engage news readers will continue to serve news publishers in increasing both engagement and traffic with their content.

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