Self-Refilling Bowls of Soup: The Science Behind Why Endless Content Keeps Users Consuming


Picture this scenario: you wake up at 7 AM, grab your phone and start catching up on everything you missed since you last checked six hours ago.

You snooze your alarm three times while you scroll down your Facebook newsfeed, and when you finally reach the same posts that you’ve already seen the night before, you make sure to catch up on Instagram as well. Before you know it, it’s 8 AM and you’re still in bed.

Consumers are spending tons of time online, much of which is spent on feeds.

In fact, an analysis of publishers that have implemented Taboola Feed are showing a 2.14% decrease in bounce rates on average.

Chauncey Neyman, a computer scientist who studied addictive software designs in California, claimed that consumers are spending more time on feed formats than they originally intended.

Surprisingly, the reason why is related to soup.

The bottomless bowl effect: infinite scroll is like a self-refilling bowl.

Nobel prize winner Brian Wansink, who studies an interesting mix of consumer behavior and nutrition psychology, ran a study with fifty-four participants and divided them into two groups.

The first group was asked to eat soup from a regular bowl and the second was asked to eat soup from a self-refilling bowl.

The people who were unknowingly drinking soup from self-refilling bowls not only consumed more, but consumed 73% more, and when asked, did not believe they had consumed more, and did not perceive themselves as more satiated than those eating from normal bowls.

The above phenomenon is called the “bottomless bowl effect” and is explained by the tendency to rely on visual cues (For example, like how people use their eyes to count calories) and under rely on internal cues (For example, when your stomach growls).

Because there is virtually no end to the materials we can consume via infinite scrolling, consumers have the tendency to consume much more than they otherwise would.

Similar to the bottomless bowl effect, here too people rely on visual cues, or, how much content they have left to read, more than internal cues, or, the amount of time they originally allocated.

This leads to consumers spending much more time on infinite feeds than originally planned.

The Infinite-scrolling experience of Taboola Feed increases engagement and revenue because of the self-filling bowl effect.

Taboola has been offering publishers an infinite-scrolling feed of content. Not only does RPM go up substantially, but we’re also seeing other engagement metrics changing, like bounce rates for example.

In a sample of over 500 publishers who have implemented Taboola Feed, we saw a decrease of 2 to 3% in bounce rates as opposed to a standard widget. Taboola Feed alone has a 152% stronger impact on bounce rate on mobile devices than desktop devices.

Consumers who are engaging with Taboola Feed are bouncing less from publishers’ sites. The common visual cues they associate with an end to their browsing session—things like the article’s comment section, other navigation button, or a page footer—are lacking, and thus they stay browsing on the page longer, consuming more content.

Infinite feeds as the ultimate solution.

The human tendency to over rely on visual cues is one of the contributors to the growing amount of time that consumers are spending on infinite feeds and part of the reason why so many publishers are using Taboola Feed.

Taboola Feed recommends users the best content for them, in an engaging environment much like social feeds.

Users enjoy the familiar scrolling experience—they engage with an endless feed that contains sponsored content, organic content and sponsored video, as well as third party cards like our recently released weather card.

Taboola Feed has already been implemented by publishers worldwide, including the NY Daily NewsEuronewsBauer, and many more.

Posted by: Rachel Zalta and Stephanie Knipprath

The publishing rights of this post belongs to the Company Taboola. For offering interesting information and creating better coverage, for our customers this information has been reposted.

The full version of the post can be viewed here

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