The Effect of Links and Excerpts on Internet News Consumption


Internet news and search sites often excerpt content from and link to competing news outlets. On the one hand, providing outbound links can make the linking site more attractive, even to the point of stealing traffic from the linked sites. Regulatory policy, such as the European Union’s Copyright Directive Article 15 taxing links, is predicated in part on this idea. On the other hand, receiving inbound links can increase a linked site’s audience by informing readers about its news content that day. To explore these opposing perspectives, the authors develop a dynamic learning model and fit it to browsing and link data from celebrity news sites. They then simulate how banning links affects consumer browsing and find that linking increases celebrity news consumption, especially among consumers who browse the least. On average, linking benefits both the linking and linked sites. The authors estimate that exposure to a link increases the likelihood of visiting the linked site by .14%. This increase is approximately three times the commonly reported click-through rate for paid display advertisements.

Journal of Marketing Research 57 (3), 395–421