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Hard News Pays Publishers More Than Chasing Search Trends, Report Says

While many news organizations chase traffic by matching their news coverage to what’s listed as “hot” on Google Trends, Twitter, and elsewhere, a new report says hard news coverage actually makes the most money for major news publishers.

Perfect Market, a company that works with publishers to help them make more money from search engine visitors, has just released its Vault Index, a list of the most valuable online news topics. The bottom line? Hot topics (like Tiger Woods’ troubles and other celebrity news) may bring in search traffic, but hard news brings in the most money.

Below is a look at Perfect Market’s Summer 2010 Vault Index. The “Vault Index Score” in column two is a marriage of the traffic and revenue (per thousand page views) that you see in columns three and four. (That’s why “Mortgage Rates” ranks fifth; the lower traffic score was offset by the high revenue score.)


For the sake of comparison, Perfect Market says articles on the Lindsay Lohan sentencing averaged RPMs of about $2.50, a quarter of what articles about Proposition 8 made.

“Without this kind of data, publishers end up chasing trends to increase raw page views,” says Perfect Market’s Chief Revenue Officer, Tim Ruder. “But that is not necessarily the best revenue strategy.”

Perfect Market says it tracked more than 15 million news articles from 21 U.S. news sites between June 22 and September 21, 2010. Tracked sites included The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Chicago Tribune. The company does say that publishers in different markets are unique, and there may be some stories of local interest that would appear on a Vault Index specific to their publication.

Danny Sullivan profiled the company earlier this summer in our article, Search Engines + Newspapers: Perfect Market’s Delivery System Aims To Please Both.

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