July 18, 2024

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Trends and Facts on Online News | State of the News Media

Trends and Facts on Online News | State of the News Media

The vast majority of adults in the United States get at least some news from digital devices, and the online space has become a host for the digital homes of both legacy news outlets and new, “born on the web” news outlets. Digital advertising revenue across all digital entities (beyond just news) continues to grow, with technology companies playing a large role in the flow of both news and revenue. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about digital news below.

Audience

The news outlets included in this analysis are those whose primary domain – the outlet’s flagship website – averaged at least 10 million unique visitors per month from October to December of each year analyzed, according to Comscore, a cross-platform audience measurement company. This includes both digital-native news publishers, such as Axios or HuffPost, and so-called “legacy” news organizations (those that originated in print or broadcast) like The New York Times or Fox News that met those traffic levels. There were 105 such outlets in 2022 (for a full list of outlets and collection methods, read the methodology).

The average fourth quarter monthly unique visitors for the primary domains of these outlets remained relatively stable from 2021 (27.9 million) to 2022 (27.1 million), according to Comscore data. The average minutes per visit was about 1 minute and 45 seconds, down from roughly 1 minute and 50 seconds in 2021.

Website traffic and time spent for news outlets


Unique visitors of news outlets

Average number of monthly unique visitors for the news outlets with the highest traffic

Year (Q4) Average monthly unique visitors
2019 28,985,658
2020 32,096,048
2021 27,879,441
2022 27,145,515

Note: The news outlets with the highest traffic are defined as those that had a monthly average of at least 10 million unique visitors from October to December of the year being analyzed, according to Comscore data. Each outlet’s primary domain – the outlet’s flagship website – was analyzed; read the methodology for a list of domains. 2022 and 2021 cohort is based on data from 2022.

Source: Comscore Media Metrix® Multi-Platform, United States, Unique Visitors, October-December 2021-2022.

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Visit duration of news outlets

Average minutes per visit for the news outlets with the highest traffic

Year (Q4) Average minutes per visit
2019 2.13
2020 1.95
2021 1.86
2022 1.74

Note: The news outlets with the highest traffic are defined as those that had a monthly average of at least 10 million unique visitors from October to December of the year being analyzed, according to Comscore data. Each outlet’s primary domain – the outlet’s flagship website – was analyzed; read the methodology for a list of domains. 2022 and 2021 cohort is based on data from 2022.

Source: Comscore Media Metrix® Multi-Platform, United States, Average Minutes Per Visit, October-December 2021-2022.

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Outlets have several options for reaching their consumers online, including apps, newsletters, podcasts and aggregation platforms like Apple News or Flipboard. The use of those different tools varies across news outlets. In a Pew Research Center audit of 105 outlets conducted in October 2023, about three-quarters of these highest-traffic news outlets (74%) have apps for at least one of the two main mobile platforms (iOS and Android). Among outlets that do have apps, two-thirds (67%) have them for both platforms.


Mobile app availability for news outlets

% of news outlets with the highest traffic that have an app for in each platform

Platform 2021 2023
Android only 0 2
iOS only 9 6
Android + iOS 64 67

Note: The news outlets with the highest traffic are defined as those that had a monthly average of at least 10 million unique visitors from October to December of the previous year, according to Comscore data. Each outlet’s primary domain – the outlet’s flagship website – was analyzed; read the methodology for a list of domains. The percentage of outlets without either type of app is not shown.

Source: Pew Research Center audit of the 105 news outlets with the highest traffic. Read the methodology for details on site selection and audit process.

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News outlets are also adopting other digital outreach and engagement methods. The vast majority of these outlets offer newsletters (92%) and have an official presence on Flipboard (92%) or Apple News (87%). About three-quarters release podcasts (76%), and 37% allow comments on their articles.

These outlets are also highly likely to use social media as part of their outreach. All outlets studied here have an official presence on Facebook, while at least nine-in-ten have a presence on X, formerly known as Twitter (99%), Instagram (97%), and YouTube (93%).

TikTok has become an increasingly popular way that these digital news sites reach their audiences. Nearly nine-in-ten of these sites (89%) have a presence on TikTok, up from 57% in 2021. Fewer outlets have accounts on Snapchat (25%).

Digital outreach methods for news outlets


Outreach methods for news outlets

% of news outlets with the highest traffic that use …

Outreach type 2021 2023
Newsletters 93 92
Flipboard 95 92
Apple News 88 87
Podcasts 75 76
Comments 39 37

Note: The news outlets with the highest traffic are defined as those that had a monthly average of at least 10 million unique visitors from October to December of the previous year, according to Comscore data. Each outlet’s primary domain – the outlet’s flagship website – was analyzed; read the methodology for a list of domains.

Source: Pew Research Center audit of the 105 news outlets with the highest traffic. Read the methodology for details on site selection and audit process.

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Social media presence of news outlets

% of news outlets with the highest traffic that have an official presence on …

Platform 2021 2023
Facebook 100 100
X (Twitter) 100 99
Instagram 96 97
YouTube 93 93
TikTok 57 89
Snapchat 26 25

Note: The news outlets with the highest traffic are defined as those that had a monthly average of at least 10 million unique visitors from October to December of the previous year, according to Comscore data. Each outlet’s primary domain – the outlet’s flagship website – was analyzed; read the methodology for a list of domains. Twitter rebranded to X in 2023.

Source: Pew Research Center audit of the 105 news outlets with the highest traffic. Read the methodology for details on site selection and audit process.

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Economics

Digital advertising continues to grow as a proportion of total advertising revenue, a trend driven in large part by growth in advertising on mobile devices. The estimates below are for all digital advertising revenue, not just for news outlets, and thus are an indicator of the general direction of the economic health of the digital realm rather than the digital news sector specifically.

In 2022, according to eMarketer estimates, digital advertising grew to $245 billion, an increase from $221 billion in 2021 and $161 billion in 2020. It was estimated to comprise nearly three-quarters of all advertising revenue (72%), compared with 70% in 2021 and 64% in 2020.


Digital and nondigital advertising revenue

Annual advertising revenue to all recipients, not just news outlets (in U.S. dollars)

Year Nondigital advertising Digital advertising
2011 $124,820,000,000 $33,000,000,000
2012 $126,900,000,000 $37,820,000,000
2013 $126,220,000,000 $44,030,000,000
2014 $124,970,000,000 $50,690,000,000
2015 $121,690,000,000 $60,350,000,000
2016 $121,070,000,000 $72,940,000,000
2017 $116,900,000,000 $89,880,000,000
2018 $114,810,000,000 $113,410,000,000
2019 $109,730,000,000 $137,190,000,000
2020 $89,840,000,000 $160,900,000,000
2021 $94,520,000,000 $221,390,000,000
2022 $96,060,000,000 $244,780,000,000

Note: Data from previous years is updated annually.

Source: eMarketer, U.S. Ad Spending Estimates, March 2023.

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Mobile advertising revenue also continued to grow rapidly, increasing from $146.1 billion in 2021 to $161 billion in 2022. This in turn represented massive growth from $1.7 billion in 2011. Desktop advertising revenue increased from $31.3 billion to $64.7 billion from 2011 to 2022. In 2022, mobile advertising revenue comprised about two-thirds of digital advertising revenue on mobile and desktop devices (66%), up dramatically from just 5% in 2011.


Digital advertising revenue on desktop and mobile

Annual digital advertising revenue to all recipients, not just news outlets (in U.S. dollars)

Year Desktop digital advertising Mobile digital advertising
2011 30,296,080,000 1,702,710,000
2012 31,797,860,000 5,022,380,000
2013 32,897,440,000 10,128,910,000
2014 31,720,100,000 17,968,250,000
2015 31,413,230,000 27,934,130,000
2016 31,141,770,000 40,802,530,000
2017 31,739,070,000 54,289,360,000
2018 35,759,110,000 70,960,710,000
2019 38,732,920,000 87,299,060,000
2020 40,623,930,000 102,598,810,000

Note: Data from previous years is updated annually. Digital advertising on CTV not shown.

Source: eMarketer, U.S. Ad Spending Estimates.

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Looking more specifically at digital display ads, which include banners, videos and other advertisements that news organizations and other websites typically run alongside their content, total digital display ad revenue continued to rise in 2022, but at a slower rate. The rise was driven primarily by growth in mobile display ad revenue (desktop display includes advertising on desktop and laptop computers and other nonmobile internet-connected devices).

Display ad revenue began to level out among all formats except video ads which continued to rise in 2022. Video ads were the largest segment of this market in 2022 at $73.8 billion, growing 17% from the previous year. Banner ad revenue decreased for the first time in 2022 dropping to $47.6 billion from $49.4 billion in 2021.

Digital display advertising revenue by device type


Digital display advertising revenue on desktop and mobile

Annual digital display advertising revenue to all recipients, not just news outlets (in U.S. dollars)

Year Desktop display advertising Mobile display advertising
2011 $12,761,500,000 $563,800,000
2012 $13,271,200,000 $2,247,900,000
2013 $13,181,650,000 $5,308,920,000
2014 $12,420,280,000 $9,645,840,000
2015 $11,733,210,000 $15,709,950,000
2016 $13,231,300,000 $22,403,170,000
2017 $13,738,410,000 $29,852,100,000
2018 $15,711,220,000 $39,663,240,000
2019 $18,763,250,000 $51,077,750,000
2020 $20,766,620,000 $63,551,140,000
2021 $25,466,610,000 $88,397,920,000
2022 $24,090,850,000 $93,603,410,000

Note: Data from previous years is updated annually. Digital display advertising on CTV not shown.

Source: eMarketer, U.S. Ad Spending Estimates, March 2023.

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Digital display advertising revenue by format

Annual digital display advertising revenue to all recipients, not just news outlets (in U.S. dollars)

Year Banner ads Sponsorship ads Video ads Rich media other
2017 $23,060,000,000 $2,370,000,000 $16,310,000,000 $4,660,000,000
2018 $28,380,000,000 $2,520,000,000 $23,500,000,000 $5,590,000,000
2019 $33,360,000,000 $2,870,000,000 $31,860,000,000 $7,560,000,000
2020 $39,170,000,000 $3,170,000,000 $42,470,000,000 $8,450,000,000
2021 $49,440,000,000 $4,290,000,000 $63,220,000,000 $11,450,000,000
2022 $47,560,000,000 $4,490,000,000 $73,760,000,000 $10,850,000,000

Note: Note: Data from previous years is updated annually. Rich media other ads are those with interactive or audio/video components, but not full video. Sponsorship ads are those in which the advertiser sponsors content. Data for years prior to 2017 was compiled using a different methodology and is available in the 2018 archived fact sheet.

Source: eMarketer, U.S. Ad Spending Estimates, March 2023.

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Digital display advertising revenue continued to be dominated by just a few companies in 2022. Meta, the owner of Facebook, comprised 37% of this advertising segment, according to eMarketer estimates. Google accounted for 10% of this segment and Amazon accounted for 6%, while no other company controlled more than 5% of this market.

(In 2017, Verizon purchased Yahoo and created a new subsidiary called Oath that incorporated Yahoo, AOL and Verizon’s other digital entities. In 2019, Oath was renamed the Verizon Media Group. And in 2021, Apollo Global Management acquired Verizon Media Group, which is now known as Yahoo.)

In the mobile sector, Meta captured about half (52%) of mobile digital display advertising revenue, according to eMarketer estimates. In recent years, TikTok has grown to capture 5% of mobile digital display advertising revenue, up from just 1% in 2020, and is now similar to the share that Google has (6%). No other company controlled more than 5% of the mobile market.

Digital display advertising revenue by company


Digital display advertising revenue by company

% of annual digital display advertising revenue going to …

Year Meta Google Amazon Twitter Other Verizon Microsoft Snapchat Yahoo LinkedIn IAC
2014 22 14 1 4 51 4 6 1 <1
2015 28 14 1 4 45 4 <1 5 1 <1
2016 35 12 1 4 43 3 1 <1 4 <1
2017 39 11 2 2 43 5 1 1 <1
2018 41 10 3 2 43 4 1 1 <1
2019 41 10 4 2 44 3 1 1 <1
2020 41 10 5 2 45 2 2 1 <1
2021 39 10 5 2 49 2 2 <1
2022 37 10 6 2 52 2 2 <1

Note: Numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding. In 2017, Verizon purchased Yahoo and created a new subsidiary called Oath that incorporated Yahoo, AOL and Verizon’s other digital entities. This entity was renamed Verizon Media Group in 2019. Accordingly, Verizon and Yahoo are not broken out separately for 2017-2020. In 2021, Apollo Global Management acquired Verizon Media Group, now known as Yahoo. In 2021 and 2022, revenue for Yahoo was not reported separately by eMarketer and is included in “Other.” In 2021, Facebook rebranded as Meta. Data from previous years is updated annually.

Source: eMarketer, U.S. Ad Spending Estimates, March 2023.

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Digital mobile display advertising revenue by company

% of annual mobile net digital display advertising revenue going to …

Year Meta Twitter LinkedIn Microsoft Snapchat Google TikTok Other
2014 34 7 1 11 42
2015 38 7 1 8 41
2016 47 5 1 1 1 8 34
2017 53 3 1 1 2 7 31
2018 57 3 1 1 2 6 28
2019 58 3 2 2 2 6 28
2020 58 3 2 2 2 6 1 27
2021 56 3 2 2 2 6 2 28
2022 52 2 2 2 2 6 5 28

Note: Numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding. In 2016, Microsoft purchased LinkedIn, and display advertising revenue from LinkedIn was consolidated under Microsoft starting that year. Data from previous years is updated annually. In 2021, Facebook rebranded as Meta. Data from previous years is updated annually.

Source: eMarketer, U.S. Ad Spending Estimates, March 2023.

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Find out more

This fact sheet was compiled by Research Assistants Christopher St. Aubin and Sarah Naseer and Senior Researcher Elisa Shearer. The digital news site audit was conducted by Research Analyst Jacob Liedke and Research Assistant Emily Tomasik.

Read the methodology.

Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. This is the latest analysis in Pew Research Center’s ongoing investigation of the state of news, information and journalism in the digital age, a research program funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Find more in-depth explorations of digital news by following the links below:

  • Most Americans favor restrictions on false information, violent content online, July 20, 2023
  • A Profile of the Top-Ranked Podcasts in the U.S., June 15, 2023
  • Podcasts as a Source of News and Information, April 18, 2023
  • U.S. adults under 30 now trust information from social media almost as much as from national news outlets, Oct. 27, 2022
  • More Americans are getting news on TikTok, bucking the trend on other social media sites, Oct. 21, 2022
  • After increasing in 2020, layoffs at large U.S. newspapers and digital news sites declined in 2021, Oct. 13, 2022
  • The Role of Alternative Social Media in the News and Information Environment, Oct. 6, 2022
  • News Platform Fact Sheet, Sept. 20, 2022
  • Social Media and News Fact Sheet, Sept. 20, 2022
  • Twitter is the go-to social media site for U.S. journalists, but not for the public, June 27, 2022
  • How Americans tweet about the news, Dec. 14, 2021
  • News on Twitter: Consumed by Most Users and Trusted by Many, Nov. 15, 2021
  • Facebook Posts in Early Days of Biden Administration Reflect Ideological Divide, June 14, 2021
  • 70% of U.S. social media users never or rarely post or share about political, social issues, May 4, 2021
  • Partisan differences in social media use show up for some platforms, but not Facebook, April 7, 2021