Forbes sees 30pc of online traffic coming from mobile
By Chantal Tode
February 15, 2013
Forbes is reaping the benefits of an increased focus on digital innovation, with its mobile audience growing 150 percent in the last year.
The Forbes.com Web site hit a record-setting month in January 2013, drawing approximately 16 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, up 26 percent from a year ago, with 30 percent of those visits coming from mobile devices. These numbers place Forbes.com ahead of competitors such as WallStreetJournal.com, Bloomberg.com and BusinessWeek.com.
Mobile has always been a part of our overall content strategy, said Mark Howard, senior vice president of digital advertising strategy for Forbes Media, New York. It is tremendously important that we never create a dead-end experience for our readers.
They need to be able to quickly and easily get to more pieces of relevant content regardless of the device they are using and we have built out our user experience on mobile accordingly, he said. As a result, we have seen every major metric increase year-over-year unique visitors, repeat visits and page views.
Readers want to be able to seamlessly move on their phone from one environment to another. The more we can enable this fluid movement, the more likely they are to recommend and engage with our content in the form of commenting and sharing.
As Forbes continues to look for ways to drive digital innovation, it is making mobile a key focus. The publisher recently launched an iPad app that enables users to move seamlessly between stories from the print magazine and conversation on Forbes.com to merge the power of print, mobile and social (see story).
Social interaction, which is increasingly happening via mobile devices, is also a focus for Forbes. The publisher reports that the content on its Web site is regularly being shared across the social Web, generating 100,000 social actions per day.
In 2010, less than one percent of traffic to Forbes.com originated from social sites. Today, Forbes.com sees an average of eight to ten percent of visits are referred by social networks.
Forbes has been intently focused on driving digital innovation over the past two-and-a-half years.
One way it is accomplishing this goal is by creating a model that enables it to deliver 400-500 pieces of original content per day on the Web site. Forbes uses nearly 1,000 incentive-based topic experts as well as a core group of full-time reports to produce this content.
Our evolution to being a social journalism platform has enabled greater distribution and discoverability of our content, Mr. Howard said. As people are being more accustomed to searching for content that is relevant to them right now as well as using their social graphs to discover interesting content, Forbes content is showing up in those two areas at a much greater rate than ever before.
As a result, we optimized our mobile site a year ago to enable the best reading experience possible, which has contributed to more people who discover our content this way to be likely to also share it, he said.
Forbes growing digital audience has translated to an increase in advertising spend, with Forbes reporting its best year-over-year digital advertising revenue growth in 2012 since 2006.
Forbes also attributes its recent digital success to the introduction of BrandVoice, which enables marketers to publish thought leadership and expertise on Forbes.com, with more than two dozen companies having used BrandVoice since its launch more than two years ago.
Our mobile audience is very similar to our desktop audience affluent, senior executives who are on the go and staying connected to relevant information from their devices, Mr. Howard said. The mobile site more than the desktop sees people coming in for one or two articles at a time and then popping out.
The duration of their stay is typically limited to the time it takes them to consume one or two articles but then they come back with much greater frequency, he said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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