The days of readers going directly to a news outlet’s home page are over. Most magazine and newspaper publishers are finding that less than 10 percent of their traffic comes directly to their home pages. Meanwhile, the double-digit and triple-digit growth of social media referrals may have reached a tipping point with search engine referrals as a marketing method to drive traffic to magazine and newspaper media content in 2014, according to Shareaholic’s ongoing research.
For these reasons, publishers must beef up their social media optimisation (SMO) operations, whilst continuing their search engine optimisation (SEO) campaigns.
Social media is locked in a seesaw battle for dominance with search. 19 drives an average of one-third (31.7 per- cent) of publishing sites’ traffic, according to a Dec. 2014 study by Shareaholic, compared to 22.7 percent in Dec. 2013. Social referrals to publisher websites edged ahead of search referrals in June 2014 (30.9 percent vs. 29.4 percent) and Sept. 2014 (29.4 percent vs. 29.1 percent), with referrals drawn from 360,000 websites and 420 million unique website visits.
Anecdotally, publishers are reporting that the percentage of referral traffic from social networks is much higher: BuzzFeed reports 80 percent of its Web traffic is driven by social media, while Quartz reports 70 percent is “side door” (non-home page) traffic from social. Facebook alone accounts for more than half of Hearst magazines’ referral traffic.
Meanwhile De Persgroep, a newspaper and magazine publisher in Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, reports that 30 percent of its traffic came from social media referrals in 2014, while 22 percent came from search, 23 percent directly to apps and 14 percent directly to the site. Social media referrals are up 179 percent from 2013, leapfrogging search-driven referrals.
Parse.ly, an analytics technology company whose publisher clients include Condé Nast magazines, Reuters, Dallas Morning News, Fox News, Advance Digital, The Telegraph, Slate, the Atla tic and Mashable, analyses 10 billion page views and 400 page views total each month to determine its clients’ referral traffic. Parse.ly reports that Facebook gained 10-percentage points in referral traffic in 2014 to reach 22 percent, while Google sites have remained stable at 35 percent referral traffic to these sites.
For more information, or to download the executive summary of the 2015 Global Digital Media Trendbook, go to http://www.wnmn.org.