Google is still the most-viewed website in the world. But when it comes to driving traffic to media sites, Facebook is now the clear winner, according to analytics firm Parse.ly.
Facebook accounted for nearly 43% of traffic to its network of media sites — a network that includes over 400 outlets such as Mashable, Reuters and The Atlantic — according to new numbers from Parse.ly. It sends 6 billion page views and over 1 billion unique visitors their way.
Google, meanwhile, drove a mere 38% of traffic to media sites.
To be clear, Google is still the top referral source when it comes to search and overall web traffic referrals. But Facebook now has the edge when it comes to referrals to media sites.
Facebook’s importance as an online media traffic driver has grown dramatically over the last 18 months. In January 2014, Facebook accounted for just 20% of all traffic to its network of media sites. That’s a figure that has doubled in the last 18 months.
Facebook’s rising importance as a traffic driver shouldn’t be a surprise to media sites, many of which closely monitor traffic and where that traffic originates from. As the social network’s user base has swelled — it’s now 1.49 billion and counting — so has its power as a content distribution platform.
That all fits with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s long-stated goal for his company: “To build the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world.”
That’s why, in May, Facebook introduced Instant Articles. The initiative has Facebook hosting optimized content from publishers including the New York Times, NBC, Buzzfeed, BBC News and the Guardian. The content is presented natively via Facebook’s app — on the iPhone for now, at least — rather than making users click on an outside link.
Facebook has not disclosed how Instant Articles are performing so far with users, or whether any money is changing hands yet. But third-party data like that from Parse.ly is further ammunition in Facebook’s campaign suggesting that, like it or not, online publishers need the social network if they want to reach the greatest possible number of eyeballs.
By: JP Mangalindan