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Social media, mobile, video boost latimes.com in September

Latimes.com: "September digital note" from Managing Editor/Online Jimmy Orr and Senior Vice President/Digital Emily Smith:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we continue to grow.

We’ll get to September shortly, but in the last six months, Google traffic is up 79.4%, Facebook traffic up 254.2%, unique visitors up 33.7%, page views up 36%, page views per visit up 12.5% and home page traffic up 16.6%.

We again far outperformed our newspaper peers in terms of digital audience growth in September.  As a result, it became one of our best months in terms of unique visitors, continuing a remarkable run this year.

The takeaway:  When we cover news the way a digital audience expects and embrace social media dialogue, more and more Californians come to our site and more and more advertisers rely upon us to reach their target audiences.  We become the first stop, whether it is a local, national or international story.

Social media surge

We’ve increased our Facebook fan base by 678% year over year, and have made further impressive gains in engaging readers across the social media landscape.

Facebook’s new “people are talking about” metric measures the number of unique people who have interacted with a page and its content:  A high ratio of “talking about” to “likes” is an indication of an involved audience.  Today, our main Facebook page has a ratio of 10.1%, ranking us among the top in our competitive space. 

On September’s Twitter front, the most retweeted post from @latimes was Bank of America to charge $5 monthly fee for debit card purchases.  Elsewhere, we received nearly a million page views from discovery engine StumbleUpon, placing that site among our top 10 referral sources.

Mobile madness

Mobile continues to be a crucial contributor to our overall traffic growth, audience development, and reader engagement.  The iPad, for example, accounts for 35% of our mobile page views on latimes.com.  In total, Apple devices account for 59% of our total mobile page views.  These products are bringing our stories, photos and videos to readers, and, as you know, we’ve got our new deputy editor for mobile, Tenny Tatusian, back at The Times to oversee editorial direction for all fast-growing mobile options and portable devices.

Video

Video is a priority for us.  The Technology blog’s Nate Olivarez-Giles and videographer Armand Emamdjomeh were responsible for three of the top five most-viewed videos in September.   Great topic selection, good timing and solid use of SEO/social media were responsible. We need to replicate this effort.

With the entertainment awards season underway, we are running exclusive clips from The Envelope Screening Series Q&As moderated by various arts and entertainment staffers.  And we’ll be beta-testing interactive programs in the future patterned after the discussions we held on Carmaggedon in July.  The goals here are to provide our readers with a chance to talk about the news of the day with our reporters, columnists, critics, editors and newsmakers; get us to start thinking more about the importance of reader input; and to learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

Monetizing the clicks

And from the revenue world, we continue to secure major ad sales for our iPad app, with recent campaigns from Cadillac and City National wrapping up, and Macy’s and Union Bank just beginning.  We’ve launched a new Framework gallery ad unit to monetize one of the most highly trafficked areas of our site, and we’ve just upgraded to a new video player from Brightcove to help us capture more pre-roll video advertising, one of the fastest-growing areas of digital.

Upcoming

Food just launched the 2nd Annual Holiday Cookie Bake-Off.  You can see this year’s bake-off Facebook application here.

Last year’s Cookie Bake-Off was incredibly popular with readers, leading to more than 300 recipes submitted.  This summer’s Battle of the Burgers took the Food Facebook page from 3,800 to 8,200 “likes” in one month.  The readers with the best recipes are invited to visit the test kitchen and are featured in the Food section.  We are very excited to see how this year’s bake-off performs — please invite your favorite bakers.

We will publish our first e-book for Kindle, Nook and iBooks in the next couple of weeks.  Details of our e-book program are currently under wraps, but expect our first release to be an expanded version of one of our most thrilling and popular two-part series.

Now to the tale of the tape...

Looking at ComScore, our year-over-year growth of 36.5% far outperformed that of our peers and cemented our position as the second-most-read newspaper in the country for three months in a row. (USA Today grew by 0.3%, the New York Times by 2.3%, the Washington Post by 7.2%, and the Wall Street Journal by 24%.)

Top 10 blogs

All of them, for the third month in a row, topped 2 million page views (only one blog topped 2 million in September 2010).  Asterisks denote records.

1. L.A. Now 12,518,051*
2. Framework 11,447,043
3. Nation Now 4,080,830
4. Ministry of Gossip 3,599,397*
5. Show Tracker 3,105,175
6. Politics Now 2,702,941
7. Fabulous Forum 2,702,153*
8. Technology 2,377,293
9. Hero Complex 2,106,278
10. Top of the Ticket 2,091,110

Top shared stories on Facebook (page views)

1. ‘Spartacus’ star Andy Whitfield has died (Show Tracker)
2. USC again beats UCLA in college rankings (L.A. Now)
3. New gaffe: Obama confuses Jews with janitors (Top of the Ticket)
4. Three arrested in bungled beer heist in Covina (L.A. Now)
5. ‘Dookudu,’ the biggest hit you’ve never heard of (24 Frames)

Most-watched videos

1. Reno air crash caught on camera (Nation Now)
2. Windows 8: A first look at Microsoft’s new operating system (Technology)
3. Motorola Droid Bionic: Top-notch smartphone isn’t for everybody (Technology)
4. Samsung Galaxy SII: Could be king of Android smartphones (Technology)
5. Raw video: VIP spectator captures Reno horror (Nation Now)

 

 
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