January 27, 2016 Last Updated 11:10 am

TNM navel gazing: as readership grows use of IE, Blackberry fades

This website is seeing the same thing many other publishers have seen: growth in mobile readership, and a falling percentage of readers who use Microsoft browsers

Every once in a while I like to share some information with TNM readers about who exactly is reading this website. I’m inspired by Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo who does the same thing every once in a while, and it is fun to compare stats with the far more popular website (politics is a far better driver of traffic than is publishing).

Chrome browser This year has started with traffic spiking, but I’m trying not to read too much into that as Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm – and last year at this time I was lamenting a slight dip on web traffic. In fact, January is currently trending around 80 to 90 percent higher than 2015, though about 50 above 2014. This would be great if digital publishing vendors were big believers in marketing, but like publishers, they don’t budget much in third party advertising.

In the past year, we have seen the browser wars pretty much settle out. Whereas Chrome had a 35.5 percent share when it came to TNM readers, today it is 42.0 percent. The Mac version of Safari was used by 27.7 percent of readers a year ago, now it is 23.8 percent.

But mobile reading is growing, fast. The mobile version of Safari is now used by 14.7 percent of TNM readers, while is accounted for only 3.5 percent a year ago.

What I find interesting is how Kindle Fire readership is almost nonexistent. It never accounted for more than 1 to 2 percent of readers, but now it is less than half a percent. Similarly, Android browser readership, while higher because of overall growth in readership, is now a lower percentage of total readership.

Internet Explorer usage continues to fall – today less than 7 percent of TNM readers use it, while the percentage was just 12 percent a year ago. And as for Blackberry… well, that has dropped out of the top 10 browsers used.

Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, has made its first appearance in TNM’s traffic reports, though it has yet to hit the 1 percent level. My guess is that a year from now it will account for 1 to 5 percent of readership.

The real driver of growth is mobile. A year ago around 71 percent of TNM readers were accessing the website via a PC browser. Today, while more readers are accessing the site that way, they represent a far smaller percentage of overall readership – about 57 percent. Mobile readership, meanwhile has tripled, and tablet readership has doubled.

That last bit, about tablet readership, I found interesting. It shows that while overall iPad sales are falling, the use of an iPad (or other tablet) as an every day work device, appears to be growing. But as you might expect, bounce rates are far higher for readers on mobile or tablet devices, something many publishers are seeing.

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