Five big movers of mobile traffic in 2017

Parse.ly network data shows that on average over 65% of traffic to publisher and brand sites in 2017 was “pure mobile.” Now, nearing the end of Q1 2018, mobile and tablets drive 73% of traffic to its network.

When you break down the services or referrers that drove mobile growth in 2017, five bigs ones stand out. People are discovering content on mobile devices via:

1. Plain old Google Search

Google experimented a lot with highlighting premium publishers in their mobile search experiences, and unifying Google Search with Google News, which drove more traffic back to publishers’ sites.

Traffic from Google AMP increased by 87% in 2017. Not only that, but making AMP available to other platforms contributed to mobile growth. AMP drove 3% of visitors to our network by way of non-Google platforms, including Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

2. Google’s non-search connected services

These services include Google Now and Google Play Newsstand, mostly on Android. Though these services did not grow the most out of the five listed here, the absolute number of visits delivered was substantial, and contributed to Google overtaking Facebook as a primary source of traffic. AMP and Android platform dominance propelled Google’s shift from news search to content discovery.

3. Flipboard

Flipboard was the big independent (read: not Google or Facebook) traffic source growth story of 2017. Especially in the latter half of the year, as they launched their formal partnerships with major publishers, Flipboard grew over 300% over the year in mobile.

4. Twitter

Twitter and Flipboard are now sending similar levels of mobile visits to publisher sites. Twitter has reinvested in news partnerships, mobile speed, and their mobile apps. Notable changes to the app include the shift to the 280 character limit, AMP embeds, and algorithm changes.

5. Instagram

Instagram also cracked our top-10 list for traffic sources overall for publishers, driven by the platform’s move this year to allow linking to external web-based content from Instagram stories. With the copycat stories feature, Instagram ultimately took the wind out of Snapchat’s sails.

Keeping up with the pace of mobile growth

With the fast growth of mobile, and especially now that Facebook referrals are declining, building direct mobile channels allows publishers to meet readers where they are.

People still spend a lot of time checking email, and having a “daily read” newsletter is a great way to drive traffic to your mobile site, without requiring a native iOS or Android app strategy. According to a study by Campaign Monitor, 41% of email opens happen on mobile devices, exceeding the amount of opens on both desktop and tablets. If you can’t build your own app, integrate your content into users’ habitual engagement with their email app.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind that readers are less likely to click through on mobile. Campaign Monitor reports, “As more people consume email on mobile devices, the standard for compelling content is higher than ever.”

As mobile grows, checking back in with the data helps ensure that you’re connecting with readers when and where they are on mobile, and delivering content that resonates with them.

Re-published by kind permission of Digital Content Next