Osama bin Laden Death Drives Massive Traffic for News Sites

Chris CrumSearch

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Obviously the Osama bin Laden news drove (and continues to drive) a massive amount of news coverage from all sorts of publications. Coverage from tech blogs has taken some criticism this week, as Mashable announced a record number of unique visitors (more on our position on this debate here), but altogether, daily visits to news and media sites reached a three-year high, according to Experian Hitwise.

According to the firm's data (and this is North America), Yahoo News ranked first among the News and Media sties on Monday, experiencing a 200% increase in total visits, compared to the previous Monday. MSNBC, the Huffington Post, CNN.com, and ABCNews.com rounded out the top five.

Traffic to news sites based on Osama bin Laden News

"The search terms driving traffic to the News & Media category on Monday, May 2, 2011 were dominated by content surrounding the Bin Laden death, although it is interesting to note the ‘bin laden wives’ ranked first followed by ‘osama bin laden dead’," said Hitwise Director of Research Heather Dougherty. "Out of the top 100 search terms, 30 were Bin Laden related, with 6 of those search queries including the term ‘photo’ or video’ as some called for additional evidence. Interest also grew for news around the Navy Seal Team 6, the secret unit involved in the operation and the mansion where it took place."

On Monday, as we reported, Osama-related queries dominated Google's entire top 20 list of hot search trends. Yahoo also shared some search data about the news. Here is the list of top search terms driving traffic to news and media sites on Monday, according to Experian Hitwise:

Osama bin laden search terms

comScore has also shared some interesting data related to the news. "Here at comScore, we were curious to understand how others may have experienced this news, so we decided to do a little digging," said comScore's Andrew Lipsman. "Our analysis looks at the 24-hour period beginning at 7:00 PM ET on Sunday, May 1, and ending at 7:00 PM ET Monday, May 2."

Here's the firm's look at news consumption by platform:

Osama News data from comScore

Very interesting to see how big a lead computer had over mobile at all times. They also look at hourly percentage of news traffic by digital media platform (that is OSL-related) and hourly share of Osama-related news traffic by digital media platform here. These show where each platform had their spikes in usage.

"The quest for news about Osama bin Laden exhibited in these charts illustrates how increasingly dependent on technology we’ve become to keep informed of developments especially as they pertain to important breaking news," said Lipsman. "Mobile and tablet devices are becoming a more significant part of the digital media landscape, as it’s becoming clearer how they help fill in the gaps when consumers may not always be right by a computer. From our analysis of news consumption in recent days, we’ve shown that many people opted for these devices – myself included – to feed our need for news in the wake of this historic event. This behavior is only going to grow more prevalent with time with the plethora of devices coming out to support growing information needs. And in this real-time environment where we can always be plugged in, one can expect news consumers will only become savvier in consuming a constant stream of news from multiple platforms. The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden may have just given us an important glimpse into the future of news consumption."

The fact that people are consuming news in so many formats, only adds to the argument for expanded coverage by publications who are increasingly using more channels to attract their audiences. To put this in context with the Mashable debate, user who is already looking at Mashable, or a Facebook update from Mashable as they're browsing their newsfeed, might get important information quicker, or at least become aware of the general story than they otherwise would have.

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.