Facebook is a major referral source for news and media websites, alongside other social media channels such as Twitter. Facebook’s launch of Instant Articles in May this year highlights its role in news and media. Instant Articles allows publishers to host their articles on Facebook in return for advertising profit sharing. When Instant Articles first launched, we couldn’t help but ask ourselves, “Will publishers really go for this?
Our team also wondered “How big a player is Facebook as a referrer of media site traffic?” Facebook happens to be a very big player. A recent interview with Fortune Magazine by traffic data analysts Parse.ly revealed Facebook has overtaken Google as the top traffic referral source.
Parse.ly’s client list has over 400 news and media outlets, including The Atlantic, Wired, Mashable and Business Insider. In July this year, Facebook was responsible for referring 43% of the traffic to these sites and Google 38%.
Facebook’s position looks even better when considered over time. While the amount of traffic delivered through Google and search is holding steady, traffic via Facebook has continued to rise, more than doubling from January to July this year.
Google refers a greater breadth of sites than Facebook, but major news outlets may do well to give Instant Articles a try (launch partners include a variety of news sources ranging from BuzzFeed to the BBC). As marketers, we’re certainly waiting in anticipation for when this inventory will be available via Facebook’s Advertising Network. The opportunity for advertisers to use Facebook’s targeting on trusted media content is tantalising.