By: Geoff Kehrer, Content and Mobile Sales Engineer

For the past decade, we’ve continued to see the landscape change dramatically when it comes to how your readers and viewers consume content. It’s an interesting ecosystem, and media companies are continually looking for the ”‘Holy Grail” in terms of platforms and products to engage their customers the most meaningful and effective way possible.

Nothing new here, right?


The landscape continues to evolve, and while I wish there was a “silver bullet” that would solve all the questions that media companies face daily, I can state with certainty that analytics are providing an interesting glimpse into the landscape.

I was fortunate to attend the Online News Association conference this year and was intrigued by a session that Chartbeat presented. They dug into some interesting trends as they related to search, social media and media consumption.

A reversal in the largest sources of traffic

Facebook traffic has steadily declined and now down nearly 40%, compared to January 2017.

On the other hand, Google Search on mobile has grown more than two times since January 2017.

Let’s throw another interesting tidbit into the equation. Direct mobile traffic has steadily grown by more than 30% in that same time period. When we talk about “direct,” this would be direct from a site’s app. Consumers are increasingly using media companies’ apps to garner content they’re interested in, instead of relying on Google or social searches.

Demand for content has never been stronger!

On August 3rd, 2018, Facebook went down for 45 minutes. Oh my gosh! What happened to news consumption?

Nothing. Users switched to direct and search as their discovery mechanisms. During that time, overall traffic was up 2.3%. Direct was up 11%, driven by app increase of 22%, and overall search was up 8%. The demand for content remained strong, and consumers found their way to get it.

Engagement differences between devices continues to evolve

I spoke quite a bit above about mobile. Mobile use continues to grow – and grow a lot. Today, mobile accounts for over 60% of total internet use. In some markets or regions, that number is lower; however, in other markets, that number is well above 60%. Consumers are on their mobile devices more than ever before.

In news and media, mobile use has firmly surpassed desktop use. From 2017 to 2018, desktop use experienced double-digit declines, while mobile saw double-digit growth. I expect we’ll see this continuing, and don’t see this as a simple trend.

As we know, the experience within desktop and mobile are different. How much users consume, how much they scroll, time spent, etc. are all factors in the engagement experience.

Interestingly, based on Chartbeat’s analytics, mobile users actually engage 40% longer on mobile than desktop users, and are 20% more likely to click within that experience.

In addition, amazingly, mobile visitors exhibit more loyalty across the board, as well.

In conclusion, I’d like to provide some things to consider:

  • Are we in a post-social world, when it comes to referral traffic? What will come next?
  • Direct on mobile is growing. Are you prepared?
  • Content discovery is changing.
    • Social is no longer the way mobile visitors read.
    • Google Search and Direct are the largest sources of traffic.
  • Mobile readers are equally, or even more engaged, and more loyal. Are we doing enough?

If you are interested in maximizing the mobile experience for your readers, contact us at to get in touch with one of our sales engineers.

About the Author: Geoff serves as the content and mobile sales engineer with Newscycle Solutions. He started his career 23 years ago at Quark, Inc., and has spent the last 13 years working in the content and mobile space with Harris & Baseview, MediaSpan, and Newscycle.