Global Audience Insights from Q4 2021: Mobile traffic dips, search and social steady to end year

The final quarter of 2021 saw little change in search and social while mobile traffic and reader loyalty had some surprising slips. 

Find more insights from our fourth quarter research below.

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

Engaged Time highest in Latin America, Africa

Readers in Latin America regained the top spot of this metric with an Average Engaged Time of 35.3 seconds in the fourth quarter. Africa dipped slightly to 34.1 seconds. Central Asia, the third-highest engaged region of the third quarter, also experienced a drop from 33.2 to 31.9 seconds.

Outside the top three, other regions remained largely in the same order with the exception of North America, which dropped to 28.1 seconds.

Mobile pageviews dip everywhere but Latin America

Central Asia stayed at the top of our mobile traffic measurement with 89% of pageviews in the region coming from mobile devices. Africa was next with 84%.

While some regions like Southeast Asia and Southern Europe dipped a full three percentage points, Latin America jumped from 67% to 71%, the only increase in the quarter.

Search referrals largely unchanged

Search referrals stayed relatively flat across the world in the fourth quarter. 52% of pageviews in Central Asia came from search, followed by Southeast Asia at 46% and Africa at 32%.

Search audiences in Central Asia drove 54% of pageviews in the third quarter of 2021, while readers in Southeast Asia had driven the second most referrals at 45% during the same period. The rest of the regions we track for this analysis remained in the same order.

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Social shows more gains for Latin America

Social media referral traffic is another area where Latin America increased quarter over quarter, with 20% of their pageviews coming from social platforms in the fourth quarter. Africa held on to the top spot at 21%, and Central Asia was close behind both at 19%.

Reader loyalty highest in Europe, Asia / Pacific

When we look at Europe as a whole,  no region saw less than 39% of its traffic come from loyal readers,* and Northern Europe hovered close to 50% for the fourth consecutive quarter. Asia / Pacific’s rise to 40% leapfrogs Southern Europe and breaks up Europe’s yearlong claim to the top 3 spots.

Latin America and Africa both decreased in loyal pageviews despite having the highest average engaged times of the quarter, suggesting that new readers spent significant time with recent content.

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

Takeaways from our fourth quarter analysis

1. Search holds on to previous year’s gains

Though growth has slowed since major news stories like COVID-19 boosted traffic in 2020, search referrals continue to be higher than pre-pandemic levels.

2. Mobile dips quarter over quarter, but it’s not going anywhere

Despite modest contractions in the percentage of pageviews coming from mobile devices, the larger trend points to continued gains year over year. Desktop readers turning to mobile devices shows no sign of reversing in any region.

3. Loyalty issue or engagement opportunity?

In regions like Africa and Latin America where engaged time is high but loyal pageviews are slipping, content strategies should stay the course. Highly engaged new visitors often turn into loyal readers in future quarters.

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