Pre-installed apps are reshaping the web traffic universe
Illustration: Caresse Haaser, Sarah Grillo/Axios
Facebook and Twitter are declining as news and media referral sources on mobile, according to a report from traffic analytics company Chartbeat, which finds that users are increasingly using search for news as well as migrating to publisher and news aggregation apps.
Why it matters: The increase of social media distribution on smartphones meant that more people generally had access to more news and information than ever before, but a lot of it was unvetted, one-sided or outright false.
Between the lines: Three market forces are pushing news traffic to come from places other than traditional forms of social media...
- Facebook's January 2017 decision to begin distributing less news, which is pushing more people to access news traffic from sources directly via search.
- A commitment to higher-quality news aggregation services from device manufacturers.
- A narrative around fake news on social media that's pushing consumers to look elsewhere for authoritative news and information.
The big picture: Since January 2017, per Chartbeat...
- Twitter and Facebook have declined in their share of traffic sent to news sites.
- Facebook traffic to publishers is down so much (nearly 40%) that according to Chartbeat, "a user is now more likely to find your content through your mobile website or app than from Facebook."
- Google Search on mobile has grown more than 2x, helping guide users to stories on publishers' owned and operated channels.
- Direct mobile traffic to publishers's websites and apps has also steadily grown by more than 30%.
- Flipboard has grown 2x in news referrals. It is the default news app on Samsung devices in the United States.
- Google News (Mobile) has grown 3x since May 2018. It is the default app on "Stock" Android devices globally.
- Apple News has grown, although it's unclear how much. It is the default news aggregator on iOS with certain products in the U.S., UK and Australia.
The bottom line: At a high-level, it's an example of how new technologies can be partially regulated by market pressure (and threats of democratic government regulation) over time.