May 15, 2014


Nearly 4 in 5 news and entertainment sites are optimized for mobile devices, according to a new report by Web analytics firm Quantcast. And those sites see an average of 33 percent of their overall traffic come from mobile devices, while sites that aren’t mobile-optimized see an average of 28 percent of traffic from mobile.

That correlation could have big implications for social media strategy, too, as Quantcast found that social accounted for 34 percent of mobile referrals, twice as much as social accounted for on desktop.

It’s further evidence that the mobile Web depends heavily on social (and in-app browsing via apps like Facebook and Twitter):

Quantcast collected its data between January 2013 and January 2014 on the top 250 publishers it directly measures. The data includes Web traffic in mobile browsers as well as in-app browsing via Facebook and Twitter, but it doesn’t count traffic to native news apps.

That in-app browsing category is key, as a Flurry report in April indicated 86 percent of time spent in iOS and Android devices takes place in apps, not in a browser. But users of Facebook and Twitter apps are visiting the Web, too, when they tap links and read articles without ever leaving the apps. Up to a quarter of iOS Web traffic in March took place inside apps, Quantcast says.

Overall, Quantcast says, there’s a big disparity between publishers who are taking advantage of social and mobile and those who aren’t:

“While a quarter of Quantcast’s top 250 US News and Entertainment publishers receive more than 50 percent of mobile referrals from social media, nearly half have less than 25 percent of their referrals coming from social sources. This means that these publishers — and you — have a large opportunity to increase your mobile referrals and traffic.”

Some sites — looking at you, BuzzFeed and Upworthy — are such social and mobile sensations that news organizations shouldn’t feel bad about not being able to keep up with them. They skew the numbers. But still: If you’re not mobile-friendly in 2014 and taking advantage of Facebook’s explosive mobile growth, you’re way behind.

Quantcast’s full report can be accessed here.

Related: App use dominates mobile browser use, but what does that mean for news content?

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Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor,…
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