BrightHaus Digital Marketing Agency

The Big Data Drop

December 5, 2016

As we draw close to 2015, let the flood gates open.

The gates of 2015 woes and the promise of 2016.  It’s always enjoyable reading everyones predictions and guesswork as to what is going to be the next big thing, in the next year.  But does it always ring true?

There have been so many curveballs thrown at everyone that we really don’t know what should be coming.  But, we can learn from mistakes made and what didn’t work.

Enter, the data drop.  Publishers alike spent a lot of 2015 theorizing on why all of their websites were suddenly experiencing huge drops in traffic around April.  Word was Facebook had put out a massive algorithm tweak that pushed video to the top of it’s feeds, thus pushing down regular video content.  While this was one theory, it was just the one, and it still didn’t really explain the serious drops.  Facebook didn’t overly comment on anything other than it was trying to eliminate plagiarism and increase relevancy.  Google and Youtube were trying to fix the same issues.  I.e. The Black and Gold Dress.  The original creator of this fad Jack Douglass, had uploaded the content onto his youtube page.  In a matter of minutes, another famous YouTuber had downloaded the video and uploaded onto their Facebook page, subsequently being shared over 20 million times.  This translates to approximately $20,000 ad revenue Douglass claimed he lost.

However, was video the biggest issues publishers faced in 2015?  I’m not convinced.  What I am convinced of, is the big brother eye Mark Zuckerberg and his team have on their own platform.  It seems that 2015, and to be honest, the past 5 years, Google, Facebook and other major social portals have been trying to correct what’s wrong in their world, rather than installing permanent new shiny fixtures.  It’s all about cutting out the crap.

If you’ve ever logged onto Yahoo or any other larger publishers site and seen the very weird pictures that accompany very weird click bait taglines, then you know what I’m talking about.  Queue the ‘you’ll never believe’ type articles.

Screenshot 2015-12-11 16.26.13

Queue the problem.  These sites can be loaded with junk.  It wasn’t long before social platforms were going to rebel on publishers that post this insane clickbait type material.  So let’s analyze why they’d rebel, just incase the picture above wasn’t clue enough.  It also wasn’t long before people started figuring out that these types of articles were just a waste of time. (I do want to stipulate, that according to the publisher who posted this article, the piece got shared over 700,000 times)

The above ad was placed on Advocate.com.  A publisher site that uses Taboola and Outbrain to push ad revenues at the bottom of it’s pages. Now, if I’m wrong and any of you know Channing Tatum, then please correct me in the comments.  However, the last time I checked, Channing Tatum isn’t bisexual, nor has he ever claimed to be.  So, there’s your clickbait.  Using a good looking, handsome celebrity to get people to click through. Upon entering the site, I was flooded with ads.

After trying to close down the flurry of ads I found myself looking at Megan Fox as number 1, I tried to find the ‘next’ button, alas – it’s carefully disguised.  Why?  So the homepage bounce rate won’t suffer.  This helps it’s stats and it’s rankings on search engines.  The longer a user stays on a homepage, the lower the bounce rate, which relates to the Google Panda algorithms.

I’m on number 2 and Channing hasn’t shown up yet.

By the time I get to mystery guest number 6 (It’s Kim Zolciak, SURPRISE) my CPU starts ramping up.  And I mean seriously ramping up.  My usage bounces from zilch to 98% usage, and just incase you’re wondering, I had a ton of applications open and 7 other browsers open before hand with normal speed.  I shut them down, and checked my activity monitor.  Chrome was eating up all of it.

Screenshot 2015-12-11 16.41.41

                                                          Before I used the site.                    After.          

It took me over 10 minutes before I found Mr Tatum, at number 39.  So I was intrigued, is he really bisexual?  I mean I’ve spent ten minutes, consuming massive CPU because my computer overloaded (I also have a decent ram size) so surely I should be rewarded with some juicy gossip?

This, is what adorned his picture.

Screenshot 2015-12-11 16.32.11

I wasted ten minutes, increased the Publishers stats for advertisers and didn’t really learn a lot.  I did however create a bad relationship with myself for the publisher in question and Taboola’s platform.  I know not to click on these types of sites and or those types of ads. (I’ve known a long time, I’m just saying that for the purpose of the ‘experiment’)

They say the most simplistic answers are probably the right ones.  And that my friends, is why Facebook, Google and other major news platforms probably tweaked their algorithms to show less and less of these type of posts in their algorithms.  Which goes a long way to show why Publishers experienced a large drop in social traffic in 2015.


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