Global audience growth through engagement: What we saw in the fourth quarter of 2019

Chartbeat’s fourth quarter insights present significant audience growth opportunities for organizations willing to tailor their offerings to the evolving reader behaviors we’ve seen across the world this year.

Below, a glimpse at global audience engagement in the fourth quarter of 2019.

(Compare to our previous findings: Get our first quarter, second quarter, and third quarter insights)

Middle East engagement surpasses LATAM

For the first time in 2019, the highest levels of reader engagement did not originate from Latin America. It was the Middle East region that surpassed Latin America in Average Engaged Time by a notable margin (36.7 seconds vs 34.3 seconds). Southeast Asia followed at 32.2 seconds of Average Engaged Time.

reader engagement fourth quarter 2019

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Africa, Asia audiences lead mobile pageviews

Africa had the most mobile pageviews in Q4 by a wide margin, with an overall increase to 80% from 79%. Asia, particularly the Central Asia and Southeast Asia regions, were not far behind in mobile readership. This accounted for 77% and 75% of pageviews, respectively.

mobile traffic fourth quarter 2019

(For more on Asia-based referral sources, see: A Chinese news app is quietly referring millions of pageviews — here’s how global publishers can take advantage)

Audience search traffic flat across the board

Search traffic throughout the world remained static compared to last quarter. While traffic from search increased by 1% in Central Asia (31% to 30%), other subregions tracked by Chartbeat showed similar data to Q3. One exception was China, whose search traffic dropped to 26% from 29% since the third quarter.

search traffic fourth quarter 2019

Social pageviews rise in Latin America

Readers in Latin America saw a 3% increase in pageviews from social platforms in the past quarter (from 18% to 21%). This finding, combined with our engagement data above, suggests that publishers in Latin America could be seeing the impact of their long-term social media investments.

social pageviews fourth quarter 2019

Southeast Asia, for the fourth consecutive quarter, continued to represent the greatest share of all pageviews coming from social platforms, at 31%.

Loyalty still highest throughout Europe

Northern European readers still represent the highest percentage of loyal* pageviews (46%) compared to total pageviews among readers. Central and Eastern Europe (41%) and Southern Europe (40%) followed behind.

loyalty data fourth quarter 2019

Despite their strong mobile presence, loyalty metrics were lowest in Asia. Central Asia and Southeast Asia loyal pageviews came in at 24% each. Meanwhile Africa, which lead in traffic driven from mobile pageviews in the third quarter, was slightly higher at 29%.

* A loyal reader is someone who returns to your site in at least 50% of days in a two-week period.

Audience engagement insights: What we saw this past quarter

A couple takeaways on global audience engagement highlights from this past quarter:

Mobile traffic does not automatically translate to loyal readership

While audiences in Africa and Asia showed more referrals from mobile devices throughout 2019, the loyalty data suggests there is no guarantee those audiences will return. While building a mobile audience is crucial for today’s readers, engaging content is what will ultimately encourage readers to keep coming back.

(For further reading, see: How mobile homepage optimization deepens engagement for content creators)

Content creators still decoding drivers of search referrals

Content creators are becoming adept at optimizing digital experiences for engagement the moment readers land on their site. However, readers are not only coming from direct channels. Our data reflects a difficult search landscape across the world due to changes in the way major platforms such as Google and Facebook elevate content. 

This makes a defined real-time optimization strategy is especially important — irregardless of platform or channel — when there are limited opportunities to attract readers. 

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