Scrolling is the most common activity performed by Internet users. Whether they use a smartphone or a desktop computer to browse the web. With this feature, users can access the entire content on the website or in the app. It is used when the content is too large and does not fit entirely on the screen. Scrolling is classified as a so-called user-initiated page event. Its manner indicates whether it is actively reading the page or passively browsing it.
Research shows that we walk the equivalent of up to 2 km per day. Some people do it so vigorously that they develop a thumb condition called de Quervain’s disease. Of course, you can also use the mouse, the stylus or the keyboard arrow. But regardless of the method, scrolling is a treasure trove of knowledge about human behavior on the web. This is an extremely useful indicator for assessing the real extent of user involvement in the consumption of site content.
– This trend was confirmed by the study “How do we measure content marketing?” conducted by the Content Marketing Polska Association. This shows that the number of entities analyzing content consumption on the basis of this indicator is constantly increasing – says Tomasz Wileński, Vice Chairman of the SCMP Board, CEO of iSlay and Head of the Working Group of research at IAB Polska. – Our research shows that the scroll depth of pages in Poland is already examined by 40% of entities, and speed – 17% – he adds.
Wileński explains that the first attempts to study scrolling were related to the development of so-called heatmaps. But the research conducted in laboratory conditions could not be replicated in the real world. – This method was popular 20 years ago and was based on tracking cursor movement. With the development of touch screens, heat maps have lost their importance. The eye-tracking technique came with help, but its use requires specialized devices – emphasizes Wileński.
The most important metrics for measuring content marketing activities
Nevertheless, scroll study has evolved precisely from heat map analysis. Now, with better tools, you can create useful analytical indicators. – One of them is the scroll depth, indicating the level of the page reached by the reader. In turn, the scrolling speed shows the dynamics of using the website. It can be expressed in different ways, for example by counting the number of pixels moved per second or the percentage of time spent at each depth – explains Tomasz Wileński.
Scroll depth chart – example (source: iSlay)
By analyzing the scrolling speed, you can identify the content elements that grab readers’ attention the most, such as photos or selected paragraphs in the text. Such knowledge allows better management of the website and to correct the elements of the content strategy that do not bring the expected results. In a broad sense, this indicator makes it possible to optimize the use of the budget allocated to content marketing activities.
Speed chart – an example of identifying which element attracts the most attention from readers (source: iSlay)
Another indicator, namely the dynamics of use of the website, makes it possible to check the level of attention that the user attaches to reading. Based on it, you can check whether the reader was attentive, inattentive, and whether they returned to content they had previously viewed.
An example of a study of the dynamics of use of a website (source: iSlay)
– The depth and the scrolling speed also make it possible to measure the percentage of time spent by the user on different types of content: texts, videos or photos. Such research makes it possible to better optimize the content of the site and increase its attractiveness for the visitor – underlines the CEO of iSlay. In practice, knowing which page elements work, you can:
- promote content that particularly attracts the attention of readers,
- change the duration of internet publications,
- discuss the topics that most interest your readers.
The key role of precision research
Paradoxically however, although scrolling the page – especially from a marketing point of view – provides valuable information, most analytics systems seem to ignore this indicator. – The most popular analytics program, i.e. Google Analytics, only checks if the user has browsed 90% of the page. If it reaches 70%, the system recognizes that the page has not scrolled at all. In other solutions available on the market, up to 10 levels of scrolling can be tested – emphasizes Wileński.
In other words, you need to research the percentage of users who access key marketing content on your website. March confirms that Google Analytics is not a sufficient tool. – You can see, however, that its creators also know how an important part of analyzing website interactions can be scroll measurement. For example, in Google Analytics Universal, it was only a special modification of the code that allowed to record page scrolling both in terms of percentage and pixels – he says.
The DevaGroup CEO, however, points out that the resulting landing page reports were not very readable. – Google Analytics 4 uses automatic page scrolling, but to a very limited extent. Only further changes to the code allow it to be tracked more precisely – adds Marzec. Despite the current situation, trends clearly indicate that the development of scrolling search tools is only a matter of time.
Huge scroll potential for the future
It should be noted that some pages use the technique of infinite scrolling, that is, infinite scrolling. It is a page design technique that loads content continuously as the user scrolls down the page. Tomasz Wileński points out that infinite scrolling eliminates the need for pagination (pagination) and extends user interaction time with content. This is the conclusion of recent research.
According to Time.com, after using this technique, 21% more of desktop users moved on to another piece of content. NBC News also found a similar effect. It turned out that desktop users visited 20% more pages per visit with infinite scrolling. This means increasing the level of reader engagement and the level of content consumption.
The scrolling search also identified so-called doomscrolling, which is spending too much time absorbing negative news. It is important to note that increased consumption of this type of content can lead to harmful psychophysiological reactions. Psychologist Susan Albers-Bowling notes that doomscrolling can also be one of the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to her, this “behavior is not really about finding messages, but about reducing anxiety”.
– It’s easy to resort to mindless scrolling when you tend to surf or scroll for bad news. The trend of looking for the worst things on social media accelerated last year in the early stages of the pandemic and continues to this day, Tomasz Wileński points out. The example of doomscrolling shows that scrolling analysis is also useful in other areas of research, which means it has great potential for development.
SCMP VP points out that in the future, machine learning, artificial intelligence and appropriate psychological insights will enable the development of analytical tools and the study of a much wider range of user behavior . – On this basis, it will be possible to study the emotions accompanying the use of the site. In the case of the wider marketing industry, technological progress will mean the possibility of even more accurate prediction of consumer buying preferences – adds Wileński.
Tomasz WilenskyVice Chairman of the SCMP Board, CEO of iSlay and Workgroup Leader for Research at IAB Polska
Krzysztof MarzecCEO of DevaGroup