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Here’s Why Every Publisher Needs a Comments Section

By Kristen Dunleavy

The comments section used to have a bad wrap. In the days before effective community moderation, the comments section was a place where trolls could run free. Fortunately, the technology that enables healthy online conversations has evolved significantly since then.

Building an internal community using a comments section is vital to help publishers reach their biggest objectives. Here are five ways that publishers can benefit from having a comments section on their website.

Drive retention with healthy conversations

High quality conversations lead to users spending more time on your website. In fact, active users—users who read, engage, and comment on articles—view 8.7x more pages per session on a publisher’s website than non-active users. A comments section gives publishers the opportunity to build a true community and create a loyal audience that returns again and again.

Create a brand-safe community

A brand safe environment is essential for profitable relationships between publishers and advertisers. On social media platforms, where it’s likely for users to encounter undesirable content, brand safety is a challenge. On Facebook, for instance, it’s far too easy for a brand’s ad to appear alongside someone’s racist uncle’s diatribe or a Pepe the Frog meme. 

But in a community with best-in-class moderation, this isn’t an issue. Both advertisers and publishers can reap the benefits of a brand safe advertising experience including a positive reputation and higher ROI.

Build connections with readers

For journalists, interacting with readers is a valuable way to build trust, credibility, and generate new story ideas. With readers demanding transparency more than ever before, forging these connections is now an essential part of a journalist’s job—and it’s a lot easier (and less stressful) to do it in a healthy community. Learn more in our Journalist’s Guide to Talking to Readers.

Get valuable insights into your audience’s behavior 

First-party data gives publishers valuable information about their users—like demographics, psychographics, engagement, trending topics, and more—that can be used for ad targeting and even inform editorial strategies. The best way to obtain that data? Your community! (And this is especially true with the death of the third party cookie on the horizon.)

Innovate or get left behind

We live in a world where shuttering newsrooms are sadly commonplace, and yet the demand for quality, meaningful online interactions has never been greater. A comments section offers publishers the opportunity to build a thriving community outside of walled gardens of social media, leading to better user experiences and improved business results. 

Want to see examples of leading publishers with successful online communities? Read our case studies.

Let’s have a conversation.

Right now OpenWeb has a limited number of partners we can work with in order to provide the highest quality service to each and every one. Let us know you’re interested and stay informed about how OpenWeb is empowering publishers and advertisers to change online conversations for good.