Facebook Referrals Spend 3x Less On News Sites Than Direct Visitors, Study Finds


Facebook may be a big source of traffic for some news sites, but according to a new study from Pew Research, Facebook referrals spend an average of 1 minute, 41 seconds per visit.

This is around 3x less than those arriving directly who spend an average of 4 minutes, 36 seconds per visit.

The data was collected from April to June 2013, and while Facebook may seem to lack far behind in comparison, it’s just one second behind search referrals.

Here’s the average pages per visitor and average visits per visitor across all three traffic sources:

  • Direct – 24.8 pages, 10.9 visits
  • Facebook – 4.2 pages, 2.9 visits
  • Search – 4.9 pages, 3.1 visits

According to Pew Research, even sites such as BuzzFeed who receives around 50 percent of its referral traffic from Facebook, saw higher engagement from direct visitors.

Traffic was also analyzed during the same time period from Fox News, CNN and NBC News.

Direct visitors by way of Facebook ranged from just 0.9 to 2.3 percent, while BuzzFeed topped the list at 11.3 percent.

“Facebook and search are critical for bringing added eyeballs to individual stories, and they do so in droves. But the connection a news organization has with any individual coming to their website via search or Facebook seems quite limited.”

Facebook can still be a valuable traffic source, but news sites must continue to test new tactics and ideas to stay ahead.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a seasoned professional with a strong background in growth strategies and editorial responsibilities. Kokou has been instrumental in driving companies' expansion and fortifying their market presence. His academic credentials underscore his expertise; having studied Communication at the Università degli Studi di Siena (Italy), he later honed his skills in growth hacking at the Growth Tribe Academy (Amsterdam).


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