Analyst: Chatty Facebookers Prefer Broadcast News, Staid Googlers Prefer Print

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More good news for Ron Burgundy. Analysis of onwards Web site visits from Facebook and Google to news services reveals Facebookers prefer broadcast media sources, while Google sends people to print media. But why?

The data’s coming from analyst Heather Hopkins over at Hitwise Intelligence, and she’s been trawling though the list of media sites of all different stripes that get sent traffic from Google news and Facebook news services. The first thing to note, which may be a surprise for some, is that Facebook actually sends more traffic to news Web sites than Google does. This would seem impossible, given the leviathan nature of the World’s most popular search engine.

But the most interesting statistic, among the various pieces of analysis Hopkins has been doing, is that the upstream traffic to broadcast media news sites from Facebook has skyrocketed over the last year, while Google’s onwards traffic to sites like this has actually slipped somewhat. Print media sites also get more traffic from Facebookers than Googlers, but the difference is not as pronounced. And given that Google news is a “much smaller site” (to use Hopkins’ phrase) this statistic indicates Google’s actually punching above its weight: Googlers seem to prefer print media.

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Right from the get-go, this fact should be a serious slap in the face for uncle Rupert Murdoch, and his odd ideas about Google stealing IP and business from his news media empire. Because Murdoch may well bang on about Google’s purported nefariousness, but this data suggests Google seems to be better for his ailing print news efforts than the World’s biggest social network is.

Hopkins pursued the matter, however, and tried to detect if there was any sort of correlation between media fan sites on Facebook and the ongoing clicks to broadcast media sites–which could explain the seeming preference of Facebookers for this type of news. She found no correlation, meaning something else is causing it–to her mind its the “water cooler effect” of social chatting on Facebook that’s responsible, driven by Facebook’s soaring popularity, which may well be true. But there’s a missing subtlety there: Facebook is by design a pretty real time system, and broadcast media feels like a more agile entity–even on its Web sites–compared to print media. This may be the instant digital-gratification Facebook generation revealing its true colors.


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