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Articles, News

Stadiums Will Be Empty in Tokyo, But You Can Still Build an Audience Around the Olympics

By Kristen Dunleavy

Today’s readers have an increased appetite for always-on news and conversations. 

In 2020, across our network of more than 1,000 publishers, we observed that traffic and reader engagement spiked as major news broke throughout the year. 2021 has been no different so far. As we’ve seen, leveraging these newsworthy moments effectively to offer the most value to readers possible leads to greater engagement, more registrations, and higher loyalty and return visits.

With the Tokyo Summer Olympics right around the corner, publishers can expect to see significant increases in web traffic from new users looking for the latest on their favorite athletes—and you can bet they’ll want to discuss the games with fellow fans, too.

This presents a major opportunity to turn new users into a loyal, active community by giving them what they want: real-time updates and engaging, informative, and high-quality conversations that will keep them coming back for more. These are our top strategies for maximizing engagement and driving loyalty during the Summer Olympic games.

Give readers real-time Olympic updates 

Spanning 339 events over 17 days, publishers are on the hook for quickly delivering a high volume of news updates over more than two weeks during the Summer Olympics. Real-time updates not only help publishers deliver more information fast, they give users a reason to stay active on their website and keep returning over time.

What does this look like in action? During another major news event—the 2020 election—leading publishers opted to use a Live Blog on their homepage to provide the latest breaking news updates. This enabled them to provide value to their readers by giving them the latest news stories, tweets, and more all in one place, and all in real-time.

Giving readers a direct connection to experts and journalists is another way that a Live Blog can drive value and keep users coming back. When a journalist publishes an update on a Live Blog, they are easily identifiable with a badge next to their name. Users look forward to seeing updates from journalists they learn to trust and depend on, so they’ll continue to engage in conversations on your website.

Prioritize quality as more readers spend time in the comments section

During major breaking news events, users flock to the comments section in droves. On Election Day, for example, we observed a 20.3% increase in users spending time interacting in the comments.

Publishers will likely see a spike in engagement in the comments during the Olympics, too: even prior to the opening ceremonies, the Olympics Committee sparked debate when track athlete Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended, and later removed from the US track and field roster.

Users will be eager to discuss all of the drama that comes along with the summer games, so publishers should be prepared for a higher volume of activity than usual—and understand how to leverage that activity to build a loyal community.

Publishers who reduce toxicity and promote quality conversations on their site are better positioned to attract and grow loyal users. Leading publishers are accomplishing this today by embracing effective moderation—like OpenWeb’s AI/ML-powered moderation technology—that automatically surfaces the highest quality comments and incentivizes positive contributions.

In environments like these, users are 25% more likely to return monthly knowing that they can participate in productive discussions where safety and quality is a priority. 

Turn first-time visitors into a loyal, engaged community

As news around the upcoming Summer Olympics heats up, now is the time for publishers to prepare for an influx of new website visitors. And with loyalty top of mind for most publishers today, there is a unique opportunity to provide value with real-time event updates and an increased focus on quality conversations.
At OpenWeb, helping publishers build the foundation of a sustainable loyalty plan is a big part of what we do. In our upcoming webinar with LiveRamp, we’ll explore even more strategies for converting visitors into registered, repeat readers, plus we’ll explore how publishers can activate and drive revenue using 1st party data. Click here to register now.

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