Clearly, there's a great deal to be said for news curation. The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism is sharing some fascinating findings about web news consumption, through a study of audience stats provided by Nielsen.
The study looked at how audiences get to, how long they stay at (per visit), how deep they go into, and where they go after they leave 25 top news sites in the U.S. Among the key findings is that the Drudge Report is sending more traffic to news sites than even Facebook or Twitter.
"The Drudge Report ranked as a driver of traffic to all but six of the top sites studied. And, more striking, it ranked second or third in more than half (12), outpacing Facebook," says Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. "In some cases, Drudgereport.com is an extremely important traffic driver. While Facebook never drove more than 8% of traffic to any one site, for instance, Drudgereport.com provided more than 30% of traffic to mailonline.co.uk (the British newspaper site the Daily Mail), 19% of the traffic to the NYPost.com, 15% to Washingtonpost.com and 11% to Boston.com and FoxNews.com."
"In other words, the Drudge Report’s influence cuts across both traditional organizations such as ABC News to more tabloid style outlets such as the New York Post," the organization says. "What’s more, Drudge Report drove more links than Facebook or Twitter on all the sites to which it drove traffic."
PBS put together an interesting infographic, further ooking at The Drudge Report vs. Facebook and Twitter:
Twitter's lack of influence on traffic to the sites looked at in the study is particularly noteworthy. Researchers Kenny Olmstead, Amy Mitchell, and Tom Rosenstiel say, "Even among the top nationally recognized news site brands, Google remains the primary entry point. The search engine accounts on average for 30% of the traffic to these sites. Social media, however, and Facebook in particular, are emerging as a powerful news referring source. At five of the top sites, Facebook is the second or third most important driver of traffic. Twitter, on the other hand, barely registers as a referring source. In the same vein, when users leave a site, 'share' tools that appear alongside most news stories rank among the most clicked-on links."
While Facebook and Twitter are essentially both able to be used in similar fashion, Facebook tends to be more personal, while Twitter tends to be more noisy and open. For many users, Facebook is where they are in closer connection with actual friends and family, which can go along way when it comes to clicking on shared links.
The Drudge Report clearly has a dedicated audience, and has made a name for itself over the years as a brand that audience trusts, which makes it a powerful tool for content curation. Given the very low-key design of the site, these findings speak volumes about influence in news and the significance of content curation in general.
I do think we will see news consumers start to use Twitter more effectively as a content curation tool (both inbound and outbound) going forward, particularly as Twitter puts more focus on getting users to understand how to use it (which they seem to be doing since Jack Dorsey returned).