The Drudge Report Drives More Top News Traffic than Twitter or Facebook, Study Finds

BY Travis Daub  May 9, 2011 at 2:47 AM EDT

The Drudge Report outranks social media when it comes to driving news traffic to top Web sites, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. In a comprehensive examination of online traffic data provided by Nielsen, Pew found that only “three sites ever account for more than 10 percent of the traffic to any [major news Web site]: Google (search and news combined), the Drudge Report and Yahoo (search and news combined).”

The chart below plots referral traffic to top news brands from the Drudge Report, Facebook and Twitter.

Pew researchers analyzed the traffic behind 25 of the Internet’s biggest news Web sites. Their report reveals new insights into online behavior among news consumers and compares the data from traditional online venues with new trends emerging in social media. The report provides a valuable profile of types of online news audiences and their behaviors — data that is highly-prized by publishers. Among the report’s chief findings:

  • News Web sites’ audiences are mostly made up of “casual users” — visitors who only visit a few times a month, and only spend minutes on a site. For instance, USAToday’s casual user base makes up 85% of its audience.
  • Many sites also attract a smaller group of loyal users who visit more than 10 times per month.
  • Google is the primary driver of traffic online, but social media, specifically Facebook, is growing fast. However, Twitter “barely registers as a referring source.”

Despite the meteoric growth of social media in recent years, the report found that Drudge Report still outperforms Facebook and Twitter when it comes to driving audiences to top news Web sites:

…the Drudge Report’s influence cuts across both traditional organizations such as ABC News to more tabloid style outlets such as the New York Post. What’s more, Drudge Report drove more links than Facebook or Twitter on all the sites to which it drove traffic.