Viral publisher Elite Daily's traffic is crashing - so it's shifting focus to video

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jon steinberg dave elite daily

Jon Steinberg

Elite Daily executives David Arabov and Miguel Burger-Calderon with Daily Mail's Jon Steinberg

The viral publisher Elite Daily's unique visitors crashed dramatically over 2015, according to data from ComScore picked up on by Digiday.

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Elite Daily had 20.6 million unique visitors in December. This represents a 38% decrease from January of the same year. Even 20.6 million was a significant increase from November 2015, when Elite Daily received just 16.3 million uniques.

The publisher was bought by the Daily Mail's parent company DMG media near its peak in January 2015 for about $50 million.

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Many of the world's biggest news publishers saw a decline in traffic and engagement last year. We reported in August that Facebook could be the culprit.

Elite Daily relies heavily on Facebook for engagement. Data from Similarweb shows that 63% of its traffic comes from social and that a staggering 97% of this comes from Facebook.

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"We grew quickly, so we knew there would be fluctuations happening at some point," David Arabov, Elite Daily's CEO told Digiday. "We're more focused on our audience than what Facebook is doing."

A shift towards video

However as Facebook put an emphasis on video (seeing a 100% growth in views in the seven months from April to November 2015 to 8 billion per day,) so has Elite Daily. Digiday reported that Elite Daily has expanded its video team from seven to 35 in the past year. And the site's video output increased to 153 million in 2015, according to Tubular labs. This change in priority may save the publisher from decline.

Much of the increase in video comes from millennials, who are spending an increased amount of time watching short-form video content on their smartphones. As video becomes mobile-first, Facebook is in a great position to takeover from YouTube as the prime location for media companies and brands to post video.

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