When it comes to referral traffic from social networks, there’s Facebook and Pinterest — and then there’s everyone else.
According to the recent report Facebook accounted for more than 10% of overall traffic to publishers in September, by far the most of any social network. The report carried out by Shareaholic is based on 13 months of data; the data was collected via 200,000 publishers that grab over 250 million unique monthly visitors.
Pinterest drove 3.68% of traffic to publishers in September, the second highest of the social networks on the list and three times as much as Twitter, which ranked third. Actually, the share of Pinterest’ overall visits increased by 66% year-over-year, more than any other social network. Pinterest now drives more traffic to publishers than Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Google+ combined, reports Mashable.
Google Plus, in its turn, does not seem to drive more than one-tenth of a percent of all referral traffic to its publishers based over one year, the growth from September 2012 to Sept 2013 has only seen a grown of 6.97%, but only 0.4% shares of visits in the same month and on a 13-month average of only 0.6%.
Another study by Yieldbot, which sees over a 1.5 billion page views per month come through its publisher analytics platform, looks at the impact of social referral traffic on the advertising performance of women’s sites. The analytics platform found that although Pinterest drives more traffic, visitors from the social network are 45 percent less likely to click on ads. However, while Facebook drove less traffic, its visitors are 60 percent more likely to click on ads.
Despite social networks helping to drive new traffic, on average, social media referrals perform 36 percent worse than another traffic sources.
Pinterest dominates among the top social networks referring traffic to women’s sites. The exception is on mobile where Facebook refers significantly more traffic than Pinterest. Twitter and Tumblr barely register.
So the social network decided to take a new step towards monetization. CEO Ben Silbermann today told users “we’re going to start experimenting with promoting certain pins” because “it’s so important that Pinterest is a service that will be here to stay.” The announcement signals a shift from web growth to mobile growth and business for Pinterest.
The initial tests of ads will be in search results and categories feeds. For example, when you search for Halloween, you might see a costume on sale at a local shop that had pinned the outfit.
The format follows in the footsteps of other social advertising successes like Facebook and Twitter. Both similarly let businesses amplify the reach of their organic content by paying for “promotion”, says Tech Crunch.
In 2011 and 2012 Pinterest worked with analytics company SkimLinks to track traffic it was driving to ecommerce sites and earn small referral fees. Despite rumors it was earning significant revenue from the partnership, however income was relatively small. Pinterest stopped working SkimLinks awhile back, lending credence to the idea that referral fees weren’t enough to support the company long-term.