Several legacy publishers have seen big traffic gains over the past year. In November, the most recently available comScore rankings, Wall Street Journal Online was up 47 per cent compared to a year ago. Forbes grew 38 percent. Hearst Digital Media was up 45 per cent. Condé Nast Digital added 37 per cent. CNN was up 22 per cent. The Washington Post’s traffic was up 56 per cent. This growth comes as some digital publishers have seen their own traffic growth slow down or stop altogether over the last year. Over the same period, BuzzFeed’s traffic was flat, according to comScore. Gawker Media’s was down 16 per cent.
“There was a period where the traditional publishers let the new digital entities make a lot of progress by serving readers in ways the incumbents couldn’t,” said Hearst digital president Troy Young. “But at this point, there is no functional difference between us and a Vox or Refinery 29 or any other next-gen player when it comes to tech, ad sales or how we create content everyday.”
The growth in audience is a product of legacy publishers getting smarter about what it takes to grow their audiences not only on their their own sites but also on platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. Roughly half of the most popular publishers on Facebook are traditional television and print brands, according to Newswhip, which also found that legacy print brands make up seven of the 10 most-shared sites on the platform. Likewise, half of publishers on Snapchat Discover are incumbent print and TV companies.
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