Social, search, and engagement: Global data insights from Q3 2021

The third quarter saw audience engagement trends hold steady across search and social while engaged time and reader loyalty saw minor slips in some parts of the world. 

More global insights from our third quarter research below.

Compare to our previous insights Q1 2021 | Q4 2020 | Q3 2020

Engaged time continues to be highest in Africa

Readers in Africa continued to be the most engaged audience at 35.3 seconds of Average Engaged Time, a trend we’ve seen since the third quarter of 2020. Latin America retook the second spot with an average of 33.8 seconds. Central Asia, the second-highest engaged region of the second quarter, dropped almost two seconds from its recent high of 34 seconds.

Other regions remained steady with the exception of the Middle East which averaged 28.3 seconds of engaged time (down from 29.3 seconds).

Mobile referrals up globally

Audiences in Central Asia continued to interact with content almost exclusively via mobile devices, which comprised a commanding 89% of their pageviews.

Across the rest of the globe, no less than 66% of pageviews came from mobile devices (up from 65% in the second quarter) as this continues to be the preferred browsing method for audiences across the globe.

Search referrals see little movement

Search referrals remained roughly the same across the world for consecutive quarters, with 54% of pageviews in Central Asia coming from search, followed by Southeast Asia at 45%.

Audiences in Central Asia drove 53% of pageviews in the second quarter of 2021, while readers in Southeast Asia had driven the second most referrals at 44% during the same period. The rest of the regions we track for this analysis similarly stayed flat or saw an increase of 1% compared to last quarter.

Global research, delivered to your inbox every monthsign up for our free newsletter.

Social referrals remain steady

Social media referral traffic also saw little change last quarter, with its share of traffic climbing no higher than 20% (Africa and North America) for the third quarter in a row.

Latin America and Asia / Pacific audiences switched places with a 1% change in either direction, but the rest of the regions we track stayed put, showing no signs that the downward trend of social traffic that began during the second half of 2020 is ready to rebound.

Reader loyalty down in parts of Europe, flat elsewhere

Audiences in Northern Europe fell a little further in the loyal reader* category, dipping from 49% to 48% in the third quarter. Back in the first quarter, this region saw half of its pageviews coming from loyal readers, the first time it had reached that milestone in our quarterly analyses.

Even so, European readers continue to be the most loyal with Central / Eastern Europe (44%) and Southern Europe (39%) occupying the second and third spots in our rankings.  

The remaining figures, with the exception of the Middle East’s growth from 31% to 32%, stayed even with our second quarter data.

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

Takeaways from our third quarter analysis

A few big picture trends from the last quarter’s audience engagement trends:

Mobile continues to dominate

While it may seem like there’s no upper limit left for mobile pageviews in some regions, the handheld device continues to hold a decisive edge over desktop, with no less than 66% of pageviews occurring on mobile across the world (up from 63% in Q1).

Social not ready to rebound

Social traffic has not recovered from the retraction that started at the end of 2020. With no major elections on the horizon and Coronavirus fatigue setting in, it’s unclear if this trend will reverse anytime soon. 

Reader loyalty has room for improvement

For the second quarter in a row, none of the regions we track saw more than half of their pageviews come from loyal readers. This isn’t altogether surprising, as a slowdown in engaged time provides a clue that publishers may need to take a step back and evaluate their reader journeys to improve both engagement and loyalty.

Get your own real-time insights to compare to our quarterly benchmarks — try a free demo of Chartbeat.

More in Research