Audience Engagement Digital Publishing Top Stories
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Mobile web traffic has increased by an “astounding” 30.6% since 2017, study shows: Highlights for publishers

“Traffic to the top 100 sites globally reached 223B monthly visits in 2019,” according to Similarweb’s 2020 Digital Trends report. 

“While the volume is impressive on its own, it’s even more powerful, knowing that this is an 8% increase over 2018, and a nearly 12% increase over 2017.

“This growth is mostly fueled by mobile web which saw traffic increase by an astounding 30.6% since 2017,” comments Similarweb’s Liron Hakim Bobrov. Desktop traffic on the other hand, reduced by 3.3% during the same period.

Source: 2020 State of Digital Report

The report covers the latest trends in eCommerce, travel, media publications, finance, social media and more. It examines incoming desktop and mobile web traffic, alongside Android app usage for the top websites and brands around the world, between January 2017 and December 2019.

59.53% of traffic to news sites is mobile

It was found that users browsing the internet on their mobiles prefer to visit sites that cover topics such as adult content, gambling, food and drink, pets and animals, health, community, sports and lifestyle.

Source: 2020 State of Digital Report

Amongst news sites, mobile traffic share stood at 59.53% compared to desktop share of 40.47% between Jan-Dec 2019. 

However, traffic to the top 100 media publications was down by 5.3% between 2018-2019 and by 7% since 2017. The two media categories that saw increasing traffic are Finance and Business, and Women’s Interest.

Source: 2020 State of Digital Report

The one trend benefiting finance publications is that of users seeking impartial financial information turning to third-party content sites to learn more. “While most of the top finance publications see traffic rise, switched to a different URL structure, resulting in what only appears to be a decline in traffic, and sees traffic decline due to a diversified portfolio of sites,” the report explains.

Source: 2020 State of Digital Report

For finance content publishers there are opportunities for ad revenues as well. 

With an increased volume of finance content traffic, and increased volume of outgoing ads from publishers, financial content sites are great places to target potential customers in the finance space. 

2020 Digital Trends

Tech giants “gained dramatic volumes of traffic”

The report suggests, “decrease in media traffic may be related to democratization of media consumption, as audiences go to video-first platforms, social media, and general news sites for information.” This indicates that publishers may benefit from strategies that allow them to connect with their audiences on these platforms and nurture them. 

Among the tech giants, “YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram gained dramatic volumes of traffic, adding up to a 10.7% increase in traffic for the top 10 sites globally,” writes Bobrov.  

Instagram and WhatsApp saw their web traffic increase by 74% YoY. But parent Facebook’s well-publicized troubles led to an 8.6% decrease in traffic over 2018. Tumblr also suffered a 33% loss in traffic due to its 2018 decision to ban adult content.

Source: 2020 State of Digital Report

“We didn’t believe it would get any bigger – but it did”

The growth of shopping traffic and display advertising indicates growing revenue opportunities for publishers in eCommerce and advertising. There was a 23.9% YoY increase in outgoing display ads traffic with recording the most significant growth, followed by’s subdomains. The report suggests, “As display ad targeting gets more precise, and technologies more robust, we believe this trend of an increase in display ads traffic will continue.” 

Source: 2020 State of Digital Report

Ecommerce continues to grow, with shopping traffic up by 4.1% in the US. Amazon continues to be the dominant player. The company saw a 7.4% increase in traffic, and a near doubling of app installations and usage last year – a feat significant enough for the authors to comment, “we didn’t believe it would get any bigger – but it did.” 

The report adds, “As Amazon grows, brands find themselves in a love-hate relationship with the brand: competing with it for traffic, but also partnering with it to increase sales.” 

Publishers can take cues from Bonnier which sells its Good Life collection on Amazon along with its own site. And then there is BuzzFeed which has generated substantial revenues from its product reviews and recommendations. 

We’ve always curated the best of the Internet. In the early days, that mostly meant memes, tweets, and breaking news stories. Today the entire economy has moved online, so curating the Internet means curating all the products on Amazon or Walmart, all the shows on Netflix or Disney+, all the songs and podcasts on Spotify, or all the places to travel on Airbnb. Every consumer-facing company is either becoming an Internet business or already is one.

Jonah Peretti, Co-founder and CEO, BuzzFeed

More in-depth information on the above trends is available in the report, which also covers travel, financial services, messaging, and video streaming trends, among others.

It is available for download from Similarweb:
2020 State of Digital Report