News Websites Take Too Long to Load

A study shows that news websites take the longest to load. The emphasis on video content to attract users might be driving them away.

Adweek reported this week that news websites are taking longer to load than anything else. They hypothesize that news publishers, in an effort to monetize their content, are going a little overboard with the video — advertisements and otherwise. It’s just milliseconds, but that can make all the difference to an advertiser. Or a user, they write:

Most people won’t realize a site isn’t finished loading because everything that initially appears in their browser window shows up quite quickly. The reason why the majority of news sites take so long to fully load is because many items outside the screen frame take much longer to download. With the growth of video advertising, these items are increasingly made up of more bytes of data.

If a site takes too long to load, the instinct is to click away, or just stop scrolling. According to the Adweek report:

…search engines loaded the quickest. Travel-related pages and Internet retailers loaded at about the same speeds, with retailers loading slightly faster. But overall, news sites tended to load the slowest. Among the sites the company looked at, The Financial Times took about 29.5 seconds to load, followed by Bloomberg‘s pages, which averaged about 27 seconds. CNN (18.8 seconds), The Wall Street Journal‘s homepage (18.6 seconds) and (17.9 seconds) rounded out the top five.

It’s sort of a rock and a hard place situation for news publishers. Video ads are one thing, and consumers know that a “continue” or “skip ad” link will appear eventually. News content is a whole different story. Digital publishers need video content — mobile or otherwise.  It should be on the landing page. But have you ever tried to load Bloomberg Businessweek or HuffPost Live with a mediocre Internet connection? I think that’s what hell is.

The report doesn’t suggest that there’s anyway around this. Aside from faster Internet and new, lighter bytes, it might just be something we’ll have to get used to.