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What this past quarter of engagement data tells us heading into 2020

December 9, 2019 | By Nick Lioudis, Content Manager—Chartbeat @Chartbeat

When we look back at audience engagement insights this year, we confirmed what we’ve known for some time — mobile readership is growing rapidly across the world.

Overall, about 40% of direct visits take place on mobile devices, according to Chartbeat’s global publishing data. As if that weren’t enough to get your distribution strategy in order, we’ve found that poor mobile user experiences could be impacting your ability to drive reader revenue.

This quarter’s snapshot of the global audience engagement landscape points to many of the lessons media and publishing communities can use for strategic planning moving forward. Also, it’s worth taking a look back at our previous international reader engagement data published here earlier this year to see how those trends have evolved in just the past few months.

Africa, Southern Europe see mobile jumps

Mobile pageviews continue to climb in Africa, increasing from 77% to 79% in the past quarter. Mobile readership jumped across the rest of the world as well, notably in Southern Europe, which grew from 61% to 65%.

We previously noted that one of the newest, yet largely unknown, drivers of traffic is coming from mobile-first aggregators. A significant portion of this growth is driven by Google Chrome Suggestions and Google News, which each grew more than 50% this year. Outside of the US, we’ve seen platforms such as TikTok and TopBuzz drive an increasing amount of mobile traffic. Our data tells us to expect more of the same heading into the new year.

Search traffic in Central Asia, China rises

Pageviews coming from search engines continue to climb across Asia compared to last quarter. Search engine traffic in Central Asia is up 2% (now 30%), while China is up 3% (now 29%), and Southeast Asia increased by 1% (now 23%).

Southeast Asia still leads in social pageviews

There’s been something special about social interactions in Southeast Asia throughout 2019. For the third consecutive quarter, this region has made up the greatest share in percent of all pageviews coming from social platforms, holding steady at 31%.

Latin America: Home of the engaged reader

Three quarters in a row, readers across Latin America showed the highest Average Engaged Time at over 34 seconds. Close behind, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. We’re continuing to look into the drivers of growth, but we have seen major innovations among publishers in the region.

Northern Europe loyalty drops, but still tops

Northern European readers have lead loyalty metrics for three straight quarters, with the highest percentage of loyal* pageviews (46%) compared to total pageviews among readers.

This matters — there have been clear lines drawn between reader loyalty and the willingness to subscribe.

Audience engagement insights: This quarter and a look ahead

The themes we’ve seen across global publishers this past quarter align with the broader trends across digital media — we’re in a mobile-first environment that rewards user experiences as much as the quality of content. With the data we’ve outlined in mind, here are a few takeaways that can be taken into 2020:

Strategize for regions and devices. Segmentation is key to reaching new audiences and expanding current readership. The surge in mobile and search traffic across the world can show publishers:

  • How regions interact with content irrespective of one another. 
  • Where readers are and how they engage with content, which will ultimately benefit their audience development efforts.

Leverage Engaged Time. High Average Engaged Times across the world, particularly in Latin America, present new opportunities to build loyal readers. Our research shows loyal readers consume more content, so optimizing articles to ensure readers are Recirculating will help media companies get the most out of their increased engagement.

There’s still an opportunity to expand your regional audiences by optimizing for the platforms and devices where they interact with content most — this trend will continue into the new year.

And, as mobile engagement continues to grow in influence, this places an even greater emphasis on making small adjustments to your site and digital content. Why? These trends we’re seeing may evolve as reader habits continue to change, but improving audience loyalty is an opportunity that digital content creators can’t afford to lose.

 * A loyal reader is someone who returns to your site in at least 50% of days in a two-week period. 
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