The Effect of Links and Excerpts on Internet News Consumption


Internet news sites often excerpt content from and link to competing news outlets. On the one hand, links and excerpts can make the excerpting site more attractive, potentially stealing traffic from the sites it links to. On the other hand, excerpting can increase the linked sites’ audience by informing readers about that day’s news content. We develop a structural model to study the effects of links and excerpts on consumers’ browsing behavior. Using data from celebrity news sites, we find that linking to competing news sites increases total news consumption, benefiting both the linking and linked sites. On average, exposures to excerpts and links increase the likelihood of visiting a linked site by .14%, roughly three times the commonly reported effect of an exposure to a display advertisement.