by Ben Elowitz

Is social going to drive more traffic than search? At the beginning of 2012, it seemed like the answer would be yes. But over the last few months, we’ve hit a flat spot. Traffic from Facebook and Twitter to top web properties has leveled out. In fact, I decided to spare you the October Leaderboard results and skip right to November, which shows an average change of (wait for it . . .) 0.1% over October. What’s going on?

First, as many of you know, Facebook was all guns a’ blazing about Open Graph at this time last year. But in the reckoning that followed its shaky IPO last May, the company’s attention seems to have been all but pulled from that strategic initiative and focused instead on monetization.

With that shift in emphasis, Wetpaint’s analysis of overall clicks sent by Facebook to the top 50 publishers on the web shows a significant decrease (more on that below), corroborating the impact—noted by others—of Facebook’s algorithm changes.

The Biggest Losers

But the second nuance is more interesting: The algorithm change hasn’t effected everyone equally. It turns out the change has reduced tons of impressions in the newsfeed that users weren’t clicking on. And that translated into less traffic for portals. In fact, referrals from Facebook to the portals have been declining steadily since April. In the meantime, the latest month’s results show that despite those changes, the average amount of traffic from social for the 50 largest web publishers remains almost exactly the same.

Monthly Facebook Visits_2012

Slight Bump for BuzzFeed, All Others . . . Eh

At 18.5 percent, Buzzfeed is the only one of September’s Top Five Leaderboard finishers to post a substantial gain in social composition for November (1.8 percent). Wetpaint finished October at 47.4 percent—a 2.7 percent increase over September’s performance—but slipped back to 45.4 percent in November. MTV fell 1.6 percent from October and lost almost five percentage points since September, dropping it from third to fourth place in Leaderboard standings. The decline put the network back behind People, whose social composition traffic also fell in November, but by a much smaller margin (-0.7 percent). Rounding out the Top Five is TMZ.com, whose 8.2 percent November finish represents a -0.1 percent change from September.

Social Composition, November

Huffpo, CNN Stay Atop the Pack as MLB Fades

When it comes to total traffic from social, Huffington Post and CNN.com continue to lead the pack. Both saw gains in November. So did FoxNews.com, which moved from its #4 September finish to #3 thanks to a 0.5 million bump in social traffic. With 3.5 million social visits in November, Wetpaint improved its standing too, moving from its #7 September slot to #5, which put it ahead of People for November. NFL.com lost some ground in November, dropping from its #3 September spot to #4. Meanwhile MLB.com, with its 2012 season over, fell deep in the rankings, dropping from its #5 slot in September (with 2.8 million social visits) to #16 for November (with an even million). FoxNews.com picked up 0.5 million in November to leapfrog ahead of NFL.com into the #3 position.

Facebook Traffic Slides Again

At 305 million for November, traffic from Facebook fell to its lowest level in 2012, down from a high of 549 million last January. Google registered a dip in November too (from 522 million in October to November’s 482 million mark), but Google has remained more consistent than Facebook when it comes to forwarding traffic to media sites. The top 50 web publishers now get 58% more traffic from Google than Facebook.

 

Details for Social Leaderboard Publishers:

MONTHLY RANKINGS

PUBLISHER

Nov

Oct

Sep

Name of Publisher (Owner) URL

Monthly Uniques

% from Social

Change

1

1

1

Wetpaint Entertainment WETPAINT.COM

                 5,634,051

45.4%

-2.0%

2

2

2

BuzzFeed BUZZFEED.COM

               11,800,401

18.5%

2.0%

3

4

4

People PEOPLE.COM

               12,720,953

10.4%

-0.1%

4

3

3

MTV MTV.COM

                 8,294,215

9.5%

-1.6%

5

5

5

TMZ TMZ.COM

               11,902,471

8.2%

0.2%

6

6

7

National Football League NFL.COM

               17,343,946

8.0%

0.2%

7

10

6

NBC Universal NBC.COM

                 9,176,266

7.0%

0.8%

8

8

10

Patch (Aol) PATCH.COM

               13,913,661

6.6%

0.2%

9

9

9

Yahoo! YAHOO.COM

             158,221,594

6.4%

0.1%

10

11

12

Major League Baseball MLB.COM

                 5,442,291

6.4%

0.1%

11

12

11

E! Entertainment Television EONLINE.COM

                 8,151,864

6.2%

0.2%

12

20

15

Entertainment Weekly EW.COM

                 7,565,352

6.2%

1.7%

13

7

13

IGN (News Corp) IGN.COM

                 9,972,176

5.9%

-0.7%

14

14

21

US Weekly USMAGAZINE.COM

                 3,526,872

5.8%

0.5%

15

13

14

Aol AOL.COM

               47,331,519

5.8%

0.5%

16

18

24

The Guardian GUARDIAN.CO.UK

               10,563,481

5.6%

0.8%

17

17

18

FOX News (News Corp) FOXNEWS.COM

               35,975,532

5.1%

0.3%

18

15

8

CBS CBS.COM

                 8,888,902

5.1%

0.1%

19

19

19

CNN CNN.COM

               56,329,367

5.0%

0.4%

20

16

16

TV Guide TVGUIDE.COM

                 6,907,102

4.9%

0.0%

21

21

17

Discovery Channel DISCOVERY.COM

               13,466,679

4.5%

0.0%

22

24

23

The Huffington Post (Aol) HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

               49,554,438

4.3%

0.2%

23

23

22

MSN MSN.COM

               98,287,912

4.3%

0.1%

24

22

20

BBC News BBC.CO.UK

               15,401,495

4.1%

-0.2%

25

25

25

New York Times NYTIMES.COM

               33,301,557

4.1%

0.2%

26

31

35

TIME TIME.COM

               10,779,957

3.9%

0.7%

27

29

34

Bleacher Report BLEACHERREPORT.COM

               11,367,184

3.7%

0.4%

28

26

28

FORBES FORBES.COM

               13,892,789

3.4%

-0.1%

29

27

30

The Washington Post WASHINGTONPOST.COM

               21,587,457

3.4%

0.0%

30

34

26

National Geographic Society NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC.COM

                 8,647,481

3.4%

0.6%

31

28

27

CBS News CBSNEWS.COM

               17,329,994

3.3%

-0.1%

32

30

32

IMDB (Amazon.com) IMDB.COM

               39,038,713

3.2%

0.0%

33

42

40

Reuters REUTERS.COM

               10,211,110

3.1%

0.9%

34

40

37

Wall Street Journal (News Corp) WSJ.COM

               15,969,459

2.8%

0.5%

35

36

29

New York Daily News NYDAILYNEWS.COM

               13,062,323

2.7%

0.0%

36

35

33

Los Angeles Times (Tribune) LATIMES.COM

               16,974,096

2.7%

-0.1%

37

32

31

Break Media BREAK.COM

                 6,640,103

2.6%

-0.4%

38

38

42

Businessweek (Bloomberg) BUSINESSWEEK.COM

                 7,672,617

2.6%

0.1%

39

33

36

Nickelodeon (MTV Networks) NICK.COM

                 7,228,781

2.5%

-0.3%

40

39

41

Cartoon Network (Turner) CARTOONNETWORK.COM

                 7,029,866

2.4%

0.0%

41

37

38

USA Today (Gannet) USATODAY.COM

               21,141,216

2.4%

-0.2%

42

41

39

Food Network (Scripps) FOODNETWORK.COM

               20,594,479

2.3%

0.1%

43

43

43

FOX Sports (News Corp) FOXSPORTS.COM

               19,510,425

2.1%

0.0%

44

44

44

Bloomberg BLOOMBERG.COM

                 7,951,322

1.7%

0.0%

45

46

45

WebMD WEBMD.COM

               25,947,288

1.6%

0.2%

46

45

46

CNET (CBS Interactive) CNET.COM

               29,340,756

1.5%

-0.2%

47

47

47

everyday Health EVERYDAYHEALTH.COM

                 7,737,207

1.3%

0.0%

48

48

49

About.com (NY Times) ABOUT.COM

               64,349,962

1.1%

0.1%

49

50

51

Mayo Clinic MAYOCLINIC.COM

               11,198,542

1.0%

0.1%

50

51

50

LIVESTRONG (Demand Media) LIVESTRONG.COM

               18,147,563

1.0%

0.1%

51

49

48

ThePostGame (Yahoo) THEPOSTGAME.COM

                 7,719,449

0.7%

-0.2%

52

52

52

eHow (Demand Media) EHOW.COM

               60,168,521

0.7%

0.1%

top