Local and Social Sites Swiping Big Media Visitors

    May 1, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

In the last year, social media sites and local news have been pulling visitors away from traditional online news and media sources, according to Hitwise. Regardless of where online media consumers end up though, they begin with a search engine.

That’s good news for sites like Digg.com, YouTube, and Topix.com – not so much for traditional news sites. Hitwise says the share of traffic leaving the News and Media industry for multimedia sites jumped by 196% between April 2006 and April 2007.

Hitwise’s findings are part of its US News and Media Report, which examines trends in online news consumption. The latest trend is consumers seeking unfiltered, candid information they can’t find at traditional news outlets.

Overall, the market share of visits to the top 10 News and Media websites declined by almost 4% between March 2006 and March 2007, at slope Hitwise says indicates that news consumption is beginning to fragment among a range of sources.

The nearly 200% spike in traffic between traditional and multimedia news sites represents users spilling over from major news reports to additional sources. For example, Internet users wanting to know more about Saddam Hussein’s hanging or Steve Irwin’s freak accident left the major news sites for YouTube in pursuit of video of the events.

While that says a lot about human nature, it’s also a tide shift in news consumption as online news gatherers seek out multiple sources of information. Blogs, too, received a fair portion of that downstream traffic, especially the top 20 celebrity gossip blogs, which grew by 42% between November 2006 and March 2007.

Over the last year, the share of visits to PerezHilton.com (which says, unfortunately, even more about human nature) spiked by 621%, as users swarmed for uncensored celebrity information.

 "News events in 2006 exposed Internet users to emerging sources of online information," said LeeAnn Prescott, director of research at Hitwise and author of the report.

"Search engines were more likely to be the first step for Internet users in their search for information about breaking events, and search engine results from news video services, video sites like YouTube, and blogs were more likely to contain the information they sought, thus hastening the growth of non-traditional news sources."

 Google in particular served as the biggest single source of traffic for print news websites and broadcast media sites, receiving 29.7% and 35.9% of their overall traffic from the search giant last year respectively.

Topix.com, a site that gathered some attention after its recent redesign, experienced an 81% increase over the past year; Hitwise attributes its growth to the increased need for local news content online. Topix showed "above average representation with users in rural states such as Kentucky and South Dakota."

(Not to split hairs, but Kentucky – where WebProNews lives – isn’t in quite the same rural camp, if you will, as South Dakota. With a population of 4 million, Kentucky’s no metropolis, but it is sizably larger than SD’s 700,000 citizens, thank you very much. Simon Cowell and American Idol are receiving letters from Governor Fletcher as we speak, regarding our reputation – even if preconceptions change slower’n a broke-kneed turtle.)