7 Surprising (or not?) Facts about the Content Americans Consume

|Alex Bennett

When it comes to consuming content, Americans have a lot in common with one another. For instance, the American love for celebrity content (arguably unlike that of any other country) is well-captured by our data: the celebrity category is the most heavily consumed of all content categories in all but 5 U.S. states (Idaho, Iowa, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Nebraska).

Our data provided a stunning display of this national infatuation when Prince George was born this summer and again when the tragic events in Syria and Miley Cyrus’s controversial VMA performance coincided with one another.

But, we all know that, despite some commonalities, not all Americans have the same content consumption habits. Our data shows plenty of regional variation in the interests of Americans.

What’s less obvious is how these differences in content consumption habits across the country relate to other factors that vary regionally in the U.S.. For example, do people living in regions of the U.S. where obesity is common consume more or less content about health? We decided to combine external data with our own data to investigate this question and 6 others like it.

Let’s see whether the results surprise you!

1. More Obesity, More Health Content Consumption

Obesity Scatterplot


2. More Unemployment, More Career Content Consumption

Unemployment Scatterplot


3. More Energy Consumption, More Environmental News Consumption

Energy Scatterplot


It’s encouraging to see these positive correlations rather than negative correlations, which could have suggested that the issues are a symptom of ignorance.

The most optimistic interpretation of these 3 correlations would suggest that Americans are responsibly seeking information and educating themselves on locally prevalent issues.

However, we must remember that correlation does not mean causation. A more realistic interpretation would suggest that more content about certain issues is published in areas of the U.S. where those issues are more prevalent, and this larger supply in turn leads to more consumption. Likely what we’re seeing here is some combination of both, among other factors.

The next 4 connections we found are more intuitive. Nevertheless, we thought it was really neat that we were able to identify them in our data:

4. More Vehicles, More Automotive Content Consumption

Autos Scatterplot


5. More Business Firms, More Business & Finance Content Consumption

Businesses Scatterplot


6. More Income, Less Loan Content Consumption

Income Scatterplot


7. Higher Divorce Rate, Less Relationship and Wedding Content Consumption

Divorce Scatterplot


This analysis is based on total U.S. page views across Outbrain’s network of 100,000+ publisher sites during the month of June 2013 as well as data from the external sources listed below.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2011

Regional and State Unemployment, 2012 Annual Average Summary, Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Energy Information Administration 2011 State Total Energy Rankings

Licensed drivers – U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2007, Tables MV-1, MV-9, and PS-1.

U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2007 Economic Census: Survey of Business Owners.

Median Household Income – U. S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates.



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Alex Bennett

Alex Bennett

Alex is a Business Intelligence Analyst at Outbrain, where she is responsible for extracting and delivering data-driven insights to content... Read more

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