Photo courtesy of Rawpixel.com
Facebook is in the news a lot. Whether it’s a headline about Mark Zuckerberg’s generosity or the gripes over the still not present “dislike” button. The social media site is always making news, but one particular area that is not broadcast is the drop in referral traffic.
Referral traffic is Google’s way of analyzing the number of visits a site has thanks to sources other than the search engine. These can come from hyperlinks from a different site, such as a brand page or an ad. According to a new report from SimpleReach, a distribution analytics company, referral traffic from a desktop computer or mobile device is down 32 percent from January to October for Facebook’s top 30 publishers. The decline is even bigger for some of Facebook’s bigger publishers, as the top 10 saw a drop of 42.7 percent during the same time period.
Facebook is a large instigator for traffic for many brands and the recent downturn has dire consequences for some sites. SimilarWeb, a social traffic tracker, reinforced some of SimpleReach’s research. SimpleReach found that The Huffington Post’s Facebook traffic was down 60.1 percent between January to September of this year. Buzzfeed showed a 40.8 percent drop and from January to February, the top 50 biggest publishers recorded an average decline of 75 percent.
There is no specific reason as to why the traffic is down, let alone at such an alarming rate. There can be a number of guesses for this, such as Facebook not promoting the page, publishers scaling back on the number of articles they release or users doing article sharing over email or text, which would cut the amount of referral traffic.
Some publishers believe that another reason for the drop in referrals is due to outdated measuring models. Jared Grusd, CEO of The Huffington Post, said that there are so many more avenues for publishers to use to gain traffic.
“The way many companies and marketers look at traditional metrics is becoming somewhat anachronistic because they measure one slice of the equation,” Grusd told DigDay. “The tools haven’t caught up to where the behavior is. But even though there’s uncertainty, if we can deliver on our editorial pillars, the rest will take care of itself. We can possibly build an even bigger audience, and data sets will follow, and so will monetization. Publishers won’t accept an ecosystem where those things don’t exist and all the platforms know that.”