Facebook’s News Site Referrals Drop 50%, Major Publishers Impacted

 Facebook’s News Site Referrals Drop 50%, Major Publishers Impacted

Major internet analytics firms have reported a significant decline in Facebook’s referral traffic for major news publishers, according to a Press Gazette report. Data from Chartbeat and Similarweb indicates a drastic 50% drop in referral traffic over the past 12 months.

The report highlights that Google’s first core algorithm update of 2024 did not favor most publishers. Many news media groups experienced a gradual decline in referral traffic, with some seeing reductions of up to 50%. Specifically, Chartbeat and Similarweb tracked 792 news and media websites, revealing a steep decline in referrals from social media platforms, particularly Facebook. Over the past six years, referrals to news sites have plummeted by 58%, from 1.3 billion in March 2018 to just 561 million recently.

Changes in Google’s search algorithm over the past 18 months have exacerbated the traffic decline for many news outlets, particularly following updates rolled out in March. Major news giants reported some of the lowest page views in the first quarter of 2024. For example, Reach, the UK’s largest commercial news publisher, reported a one-third drop in page views during this period.

The UK Association of Online Publishers and Deloitte surveyed nine B2C and four B2B publishers, revealing a 47% revenue drop in the last quarter of 2023. This decline is attributed primarily to Facebook’s decision to deprioritize news in user feeds.

Smaller publishers have been even more severely affected. For 316 smaller publishers, Facebook page view referrals have plummeted to just 2% of their March 2018 levels. Conversely, youth-focused publishers such as Unilad, Bust, and Upworthy have managed to maintain their referral reach or experience only slight decreases. Notably, the share of social referrals from Facebook to women’s publishers increased from 6% to 11% between 2021 and 2024.

Several well-known news publishers have experienced steep declines in Facebook referrals. For instance, The Independent’s share of social referrals from Facebook dropped from 19% in 2021 to 6% in 2024. The Mirror saw a reduction from 22% to 7%, and the Daily Star’s reach fell from 25% to 5%.

In addition to Google’s algorithm changes, Facebook’s shift in focus towards content from “family and friends” rather than news in its News Feed has significantly impacted news media outlets.

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Web Desk

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