Hearst Claims Nearly 2000% Increase in Mobile Traffic In A Year

By Steve Smith

Almost everyone in the digital marketing space has an infographic these days, usually scraping someone else’s research and metrics to tout their own supposed knowledge of a segment. But Hearst this week brings us an infographic that comes straight from its own servers. Touting growth in its mobilized audience, the Hearst Digital Media group says traffic coming from devices to its portfolio of sites has grown from 5% in April 2011 to 19% in 2012. That 2000% increase in mobile access is not spread consistently across all properties, however. Leading the way in mobile migration is the Cosmopolitan brand, which is now seeing a third of its page view activity coming from devices.

It is not surprising but still worth underscoring how much of an effect being mobile-friendly has on user behavior. While most smartphones can access the full Web site within their browsers, mobilized visitors clearly prefer and return to sites that are optimized for the device. Hearst found that among the ten mobile-optimized Web site launches it measured, on average they saw a 74% increase in mobile page views in just the first month the new sites were available. For marquee brands Seventeen, Redbook and Popular Mechanics, mobile activity was up 100% or more just a month into their mobile site’s launch.

One of the big mysteries around mobility is consumer trust and commitment to buying on these devices. Other recent research has shown that compared to Web e-commerce, mobile m-commerce still struggled against user fears regarding security. Hearst’s metrics suggest that consumers are willing to buy directly from brands they already trust, however. The company says that 14% of magazine subscriptions purchased from the Internet in April 2012 were from mobile devices.

As other research suggests, when it comes to mobile content consumption Apple’s iOS still rules. More than two thirds (71%) of mobile traffic to Hearst properties is coming from an Apple device, with only 25% from Android. As Hearst Digital Media VP and general manager Grant Whitmore demonstrated at the recent min Digital Summit Hearst revamled its sites to optimize for multiple platforms and is using an HTML5 code base to help the site also work well on tablets. It appears to be paying off. Hearst says that 42% of the mobile traffic to House Beautiful now comes from iPads. Whitmore explained at the summit that Hearst launched 20 mobile sites in 6 months. He says that mobile traffic is expected to account for 35% to 45% of all traffic by the end of this year.