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Facebook’s Mobile Numbers Soar After Dark Social Cleanup
Bitly data shows Facebook had a 30% increase in mobile referral traffic in the Q4 of 2014. "Facebook is crushing it," Bitly CEO says.
This just in: Facebook is a bigger traffic referrer than you thought.
New data from Bitly, the web’s leading URL shortener, shows that Facebook’s share of clicks from mobile devices increased 30.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014. That’s after a gain of 27% in the third quarter.
“It’s all Facebook; Facebook is crushing it,” Bitly CEO Mark Josephson told Marketing Land.
“Everybody knows Facebook is big,” Josephson added, “but if you are a marketer and you are taking credit for direct traffic on mobile that number just went down and Facebook’s went up. Marketers are more dependent on Facebook than I think they realize.”
Much of Facebook’s surge can be attributed to adjustments the social network has made to better attribute traffic within its mobile apps. As we reported in December, Chartbeat discovered that a large portion of so called “dark social” or unattributed traffic was actually coming from Facebook’s mobile apps. The Bitly data supports that finding; the link-shortening company seeing unattributed iOS traffic dropping from 12% to 1% after an app update in November. Facebook hasn’t completely solved the problem on Android, but has slashed unknown traffic on those devices from 77% to 25%, according to Bitly.
Facebook’s mobile gains offset a 19.8% drop in desktop referral traffic and helped drive an 8.6% overall referral increase for the quarter.
Bitly is in a unique position to take the web’s referral traffic pulse. Many of the web’s largest publishers (New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed) and brands (Amazon, PepsiCo, General Electric, Geico) use the service to shorten links for distribution on social media, a roster that Bitly says is 55,000 strong. Every month 600 million links are shortened with Bitly and those links are clicked 8 billion times by more than 1 billion unique users.
And Bitly has tracked a steady increase in mobile clicks during the last year, a 100.5% gain since the fourth quarter of 2013. Mobile clicks passed clicks from the desktop in the third quarter of 2014 and now account for 53% of Bitly traffic.
Twitter struggled in the fourth quarter according to Bitly data, falling 4.9% overall and 2.5% on mobile. Bitly’s Josephson said Twitter’s results were better — a slight increase in Q4 — among Bitly’s paid enterprise customers. He said Twitter remains an important channel for marketers, especially during live events. He said Bitly says a large spike in Twitter use, for instance, during Super Bowl commercial breaks and the halftime show.
“I think the perception problem for Twitter is they are not Facebook,” Josephson said. “The point about Facebook is that Facebook is a once in a lifetime, an outlier, and Twitter is a great huge business that drive great results for marketers at scale.”