January 28, 2014
Although many have thought that phones are largely used to consume short form content, stats recently released by BuzzFeed suggest otherwise. More than 50 percent of BuzzFeed’s traffic now comes from mobile devices. Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith believes this is partly due to the form factor of mobile devices. They feature a simple singular screen that allows the reader to infinitely scroll through an article without any disruptions, similar to a regular page of a book.
A piece BuzzFeed published earlier this month entitled, “Why I Bought a House in Detroit for $500,” had over 1 million page views, 47 percent of which were on mobile devices. This is extremely surprising because the article is over 6,000 words long.
In contrast to the saying, “the kids these days have no attention span,” Smith said: “That’s never been our experience at all.”
“Even the site’s lists, he points out, are long (as lists go): Rarely will you see a ‘5 Things’ or even a ’10 Things’ production; ’27 Things’ or ’39 Things’ is much more standard. BuzzFeed‘s time-on-page average, its rep tells me, is more than 5 minutes. And the average time spent on a longform story is double that: 10 minutes and 23 seconds,” reports Megan Garber for The Atlantic.
Since this discovery, BuzzFeed has started investing in longer stories in a journalistic style.
The success of “Why I Bought a House in Detroit for $500” with 132,000 Facebook likes and over 4,000 Twitter shares, Wired’s long article, “How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses” with over 1 million unique views, and The New York Times’ “Snowfall” with over 3.5 million page views, show that it is worth it for online magazines to make the investment in magazine-style journalism, and expect for viewers to read the content on their phones.