Login is restricted to DCN Publisher Members. If you are a DCN Member and don't have an account, register here.

Digital Content Next logo


Research / Insights on current and emerging industry topics

What’s driving traffic? 5 trends based on platform data

February 27, 2019 | By Clare Carr, Vice President of Marketing—Parse.ly@clareondrey

This past month, we took an in-depth look at the referral platforms sending the most traffic to our network. We looked at the rate of their growth in 2018, the word count and device type for each, and the specific categories of content that attract readers, both in total volume and pageviews per post.

We’ve got loads of data, which you are welcome to dig into. But here are five key highlights from the 50+ graphs, 5000 words, two posts, and a PDF we created out of the data report we produced.

1. Consistent growth on Flipboard and SmartNews for 18+ months.

Non-social and non-search traffic referrers grew (in terms of percentage) the most in 2018, 21%, you can see the breakdown for each below.

Specifically, a lot of people didn’t realize that SmartNews and Flipboard have been growing for a while. Sure, their volumes still don’t warrant the attention that Facebook or Google gets. However, their steady growth numbers still surprised a lot of people who saw our data. For anyone that wants to learn more about these two platforms: Axios covered more about SmartNews, and Digiday looked at Flipboard’s user growth.   

Figuring out if that’s an audience that works, and how to work with them should at least be on the short list of considerations for audience teams in 2019.

2. Twitter referrals vs. content “about” Twitter

Twitter didn’t grow in terms of referrals in 2018, but does that mean it’s not important? Just because we see a platform go down in one metric doesn’t mean it should get written off. One example of why was this data stat: More views go to articles that include Twitter as a topic than views that are actually referred by Twitter.

The relationship between media and Twitter is clearly more complicated than a simple “how much traffic are we getting” question.  

3. Pinterest gets the highest percentage of its referrals to short (<200 word) posts.

SmartNews and Facebook also both send more shorter posts than is average on our network. LinkedIn sends the highest percentage of its traffic to long from (>1000 word posts), as does the Drudge Report.

This data itself doesn’t say much about whether people stay and read those long form pieces, but it does indicate what people want to share on those platforms and the mindset they’re in.

4. Desktop dropped, mobile and tablet increased:

Well, this one isn’t exactly a surprise, but it is worth noting that the trend hasn’t stopped.

From Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report, per Recode:

People, however, are still increasing the amount of time they spend online. U.S. adults spent 5.9 hours per day on digital media in 2017, up from 5.6 hours the year before. Some 3.3 of those hours were spent on mobile, which is responsible for overall growth in digital media consumption.

Speaking of mobile, AMP is everywhere.

  1. 44% of mobile referrals from Flipboard are on are AMP. As are…
  2. 50% of mobile referrals from Google Search
  3. 89% of mobile referrals from Google News
  4. 39% of mobile referrals from LinkedIn
  5. 19% of mobile referrals from Pinterest,
  6. 54% of mobile referrals from SmartNews,
  7. AND finally, 48% of mobile referrals from Twitter.
The full report on these referral data trends and more can be found on the Parse.ly blog. 
Print Friendly and PDF