Issue No. 141: A deep dive

A deep dive into The Verge’s effort to grow their reach

I remember when Circuit Breaker launched in April of 2016. I was skeptical of their approach but also excited to be proven wrong. Well, here is the verdict. They grew content views some 36% by playing nice with Facebook. They scare thing is, if Facebook strikes back, they will be worse off than they were in Q3 of 2015. We’ve seen Facebook manipulate algorithms numerous times.

Via TheVerge.com

Mobile web article pages are quickly becoming the least important thing we make, even though they’re currently a huge part of what most people think of as The Verge. Let’s plot it out:

  • There are three main paths most readers use to get to a Verge story: the homepage, search, and social, and all of those are increasingly mobile.
  • Our search traffic largely comes from Google, which already serves our AMP pages in Google News. Google is also switching mobile search results to AMP links, and that means almost all of our search visitors will see AMP pages instead of the mobile web.
  • Our social traffic mix is dominated by Facebook, where we already serve every article in Facebook Instant Articles — and features and reviews are coming soon. That means a huge percentage of our social traffic is already seeing Instant Articles instead of the mobile web, and that number will just go up as we deliver more story types in IA.
  • Twitter is basically the rest of the social mix, and Twitter is signed up to use… AMP. Twitter already loads AMP pages in Moments, and it’s only a matter of time before clicking a link from the main timeline loads an AMP page by default. (In fact, I don’t know why Twitter doesn’t already do this. Get on it, Jack.)
  • Other social platforms like Pinterest are also signed up to use AMP, because Facebook isn’t sharing Instant Articles, and none of them can force publishers to dance the way Facebook and Google can.
  • We still have a very popular homepage that sends people to standard mobile article pages, as do emailed links and so on, but our homepage traffic is obviously tiny compared to search and social.
  • You could, at this time, make a solid argument that AMP is the future of the web.
  • You could also make a fine wine out of the tears I weep each night as the open web dies anew, but that’s neither here nor there.

See more of the issue here.

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