Online media traffic analyst Chartbeat has published new data that claims direct traffic from mobile devices has overtaken Facebook clicks.
This is apparently the first time this has happened and potentially marks a significant inflection point in the way journalistic content acquires its all-important traffic. Chartbeat specifically wanted to track what effect the changes to the Facebook algorithm, which claimed to give higher priority to ‘personal content’ had on media traffic originating from the social media giant.
This is especially pertinent for mobile as, apparently, people are more likely to arrive at a story via social media if they’re using a mobile device than if they’re using a desktop PC, where Google searches dominate. Firstly the Facebook changes didn’t affect total traffic to Chartbeat sites and secondly it seemed to entrench the existing trend away from Facebook referrals from mobile.
“Mobile direct traffic surpassing Facebook traffic to publisher sites is an important milestone,” says the Chartbeat blog post. “It means consumers may be more loyal to news sites than expected, and publishers may be in a better position vis-a-vis Facebook as well.
“Could it also mean that mobile device behavior, rather than Facebook addiction, is the real driver of the macro consumption changes we’ve been experiencing? In the shadow of Facebook, mobile traffic is normally eclipsed – but with this new data, it’s clear that mobile reader behavior and mobile alternatives to Facebook like publisher apps and news sites deserve more attention.”
This seems like good news for media, which is locked in an abusive relationship with Facebook and Google, relying as it does on traffic from the very companies that have taken away its advertising revenue. It’s hard to imaging all the Cambridge Analytica stuff helped Facebook’s cause in this context either and us hacks can only hope Google hasn’t picked up too much of the slack.