Large Companies Are Becoming More Dependent on Smartphone Traffic. Here’s Where Those Visitors Come From.

September 18, 2017

Large companies in the US are getting more traffic from smartphones and less from desktops and tablets, according to a new report from Adobe Digital Insights. As a result, mobile devices have grown to represent almost half of traffic to large companies as of the second quarter of the year, with smartphones alone contributing more than 4 in 10 visitors.

The data is based on an analysis of billions of consumer visits to large company websites within the US across 7 industries: Retail & E-Commerce; Travel & Hospitality; Auto, Home & Life Insurance; Automotive (excluding local dealers); Banking & Investment; Media & Entertainment (excluding National News); and National News.

As a result of the shift towards smartphone traffic, it’s increasingly important to understand referral sources for these devices – and two familiar names lead the list.

An impressive 77% of referred smartphone traffic to these large companies during Q2 came from Google search (61%) and Facebook (16%).

That represents a sizable increase from 71% a year earlier – with all the gains attributable to Google search, which grew from 54% of traffic.

Let’s take a moment to step back and appreciate those numbers from another perspective:

  • 6 in 10 smartphone visitors who are referred to large company websites (i.e. not direct visitors) come from Google search; and
  • 1 in 6 smartphone visitors referred to large company websites are referred by Facebook.

As they often do, the averages mask some very sizable divergences among industries.

For example, large Media companies are hugely reliant on Facebook as a smartphone traffic referral source – much more so than other companies.

To wit, large Media & Entertainment companies received 46% of their referred smartphone traffic in Q2 from Facebook, while the world’s largest social platform contributed 41% of referred smartphone traffic to large National News companies.

By comparison, Facebook drove less than 10% of referred smartphone visits to large company websites in other industries, such as Automobile (8%), Retail (5%) and Travel (4%).

Worth noting is that Facebook’s influence is far more muted on desktops: it contributes just 1 in 8 referred desktop visitors to large Media companies, who are otherwise far more reliant on the social platform for smartphone visitors.

Diving Into Search: Paid vs. Organic

    With search having such a pronounced influence on smartphone traffic, it’s interesting to see that large companies in most industries are deriving most of their referred search traffic from organic rather than paid search.

    That’s particularly true for the Media industry: both Media & Entertainment and National News companies get virtually all of their Google-referred smartphone traffic from organic search.

    That’s also true for almost all of the other industries – for which roughly three-quarters or more Google-referred smartphone traffic is organic.

    The only exception is Retail: almost two-thirds of the smartphone traffic that Google sends large retailers comes from paid search.

    Overall, Retail is the most heavily dependent on Google for referred smartphone traffic, to the tune of 85% of referrals. Auto is next, with Google contributing 77% of referred smartphone traffic.

    Interestingly enough, Google’s influence is greater for smartphone than desktop-referred traffic in all industries save two: Media & Entertainment and National News.

    Which Industries Are Most Dependent on Referred Traffic?

      As a reminder, the above figures are for referred traffic. But how much traffic is referred by marketing channels as opposed to being direct traffic?

      For large companies in 5 of the 7 industries measured, direct traffic accounts for only a minority of smartphone visits.

      The two exceptions are Banking & Investment (where direct is 79% of smartphone traffic) and Auto, Home & Life Insurance (where direct traffic is 61% of smartphone traffic). This makes sense, given that consumers are more likely to be tied to a single company in these industries for a longer period of time.

      By contrast, marketing channels (referred traffic) account for more than two-thirds of smartphone visits for large companies in the Automotive (77%), National News (72%), Media & Entertainment (72%) and Retail (68%) industries.

      In other words, large companies in those industries should be committing significant resources to search optimization and social strategies.

      Adding It All Up

        We took Adobe’s figures and did the calculations so you didn’t have to, combining the direct vs. marketing channel data with the referral source data.

        That allowed us to figure out exactly how much traffic is coming from where.

        Here are the highlights (full results in the above chart):

        • Automotive & Retail companies are the most dependent on Google search, each deriving a majority (58%) of their smartphone visits from search;
        • Banking & Investment and Auto, Home & Life Insurance companies rely most on direct visits, as outlined above, and have a similar mix of other referral sources, led by Google search;
        • Facebook is the leading referrer of smartphone traffic to Media & Entertainment and National News sites, with more traffic coming from Facebook than from direct sources; and
        • The Travel industry gets virtually none of its smartphone traffic from Facebook, but is more reliant on referral sources others than Google search and Facebook for its smartphone traffic.

        The full report – which contains a host more insights and industry-specific data – can be viewed here.

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