Get Your Mobile Moving

The share of mobile phone website traffic worldwide is undoubtedly growing. In 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 50.3% in the previous year. Due to the strong growth of the smartphone market in recent years, this is no surprise, especially as mobile Internet often provides a more viable online connection in regions that lack the infrastructure and money for traditional and more expensive landline connections.

Data from Chartbeat shows that, since January 2017, total traffic from desktop to news sites declined by 14%, while mobile traffic increased by 34%. One of the main drivers for this is the growth in referred traffic from pages using AMP. For news sites, mobile has finally met desktop.

Percentage of all global web pages served to mobile phones from 2009 to 2018.

While Facebook traffic has been declining since the algorithm change, both Google Search and direct traffic have been steadily climbing. Mobile readers are now more likely to go direct to mobile apps & homepages by typing in the URL than they are to be referred to a site by Facebook.

Traffic from Twitter has declined by 18% since January 2017 and is now at a similar traffic level to Google Chrome Suggestions. There are very strong gains in the last year from a new tier of news aggregators such as Google News app, Flipboard, Instagram and Axel Springer’s Upday app.

Google News is quickly trending up as a referrer source, particularly since May 2018 when Google announced an all new Google News app that replaced Google Play Newsstand as well as the old Google News & Weather apps.

Flipboard has had a dramatic increase in the amount of referrer traffic it sends to publishers, and it is now a meaningful leading referrer, having doubled since June 2017. Instagram is commonly thought of as only a photo and video sharing app. However, we’re also seeing that it’s becoming a meaningful source of traffic for news sites; Instagram referrer traffic to publishers has grown 232%since January 2017.

Even more surprising is Upday News for Samsung — a news app from Axel Springer that is featured on Samsung phones. Since January 2017, Upday saw a huge tick upwards of 763% growth in referrer traffic. Upday is one of the fastest growing sources of traffic for publishers in Europe and it’s now driving roughly the same level of traffic to publishers as Instagram.

Readers Focus on Mobile

You may think reader attention is more scattered on mobile than on desktop, but Chartbeat data shows otherwise. On mobile homepages, the average visitor spends 40% more time actively engaging than their desktop counterpart.

Mobile readers are also 20% more likely to click-through to articles than those on desktop. Mobile homepage visitors click through to articles 68% of the time, compared to 57% on desktop. Whereas desktop homepage readers scroll more of the page, mobile readers are more engaged in reading articles by clicking from the mobile homepage into content.

All of these numbers show, basically, how important apps and mobile sites are. Any content distribution strategy should be aware of the growing importance of news apps and how users get there. Mobile is showing rapid and steady progress in time on site and page views per visit. Users and the industry are getting more comfortable with mobile environments and mobile UI are improving.

There is no doubt that the consumer, publisher, and device-maker shift to mobile is driving growth and evolution in how and where traffic flows around content. Creating mobile friendly content is probably going to get you the largest source of traffic. Don’t forget Google is continuing to make progress towards mobile first.

Instead of marketing to people who sit at home or in an office at a desktop computer, mobile opens many doors. For one thing, people check websites when they’re standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in the park. Anywhere there is an Internet connection, you can easily assume smartphone users are accessing websites.

According to Business Insider’s past stats, mobile commerce, aka m-commerce, will make up about 45% of total online sales in the United States by 2020. So, you better get your mobile moving.

Elevate is a publication by Lateral View.

Let’s Talk