Technology

Reddit is “more engaging than porn” apparently – or is it?

Written by techgoth

This morning, an article in The Next Web caught my eye – a piece by Simon Kemp, the founder of marketing strategy consultancy Kepios, and a consultant for We Are Social. That qualification is relevant, as he brings some interesting insights from We Are Social’s assessment of the state of the internet.

The whole 50-card presentation is worth a browse, containing insights about everything from geographical site growth to the popularity of celebrities (who knew Mr Bean had more Facebook fans than Justin Bieber?), but by far the most interesting stat concerns Reddit.

It seems the self-styled front page of the internet has earned phenomenal engagement. As well as leaping to become the sixth most visited site on the planet, it attracts an average time-per-day of 15 minutes and 47 seconds. That not only dwarfs Facebook (11:08), Twitter (06:23) and Wikipedia (04:14), but is also longer than porn sites Xvideos and Pornhub, according to Kemp.

In other words, Reddit is more engaging than porn.

But is it?

Okay, there is a number of reasons to be slightly dubious about this. Firstly, just two sites make it into Alexa’s top 50 rankings – Xvideos (14:09) and Pornhub (08:26). The figures are (presumably) slightly different, because neither site made it into the top 20 that appear in the presentation above, but the other numbers are certainly comparable. Anyway, it may come as a shock to the puritanical amongst you, but there are more than two porn sites on the internet, and just these two have a whopping six-minute average time difference. It’s highly likely there are porn sites with higher dwell time on there; the less popular ones are more likely to have skewed averages, with lower numbers to start with.

On top of which, we need to talk about the word “engagement”. Putting this delicately as I can – the nature of pornography is that it’s highly “engaging” for a few minutes and then mysteriously becomes less so. And that’s not even considering repeat “engagements”. Not to mention the fact Reddit contains quite a lot of porn in the mix as well. There is plenty of subreddits catering to all kinds of kinks and whims which aren’t enough to put Reddit in the “adult” category, but make its definition as a “social network” less hard and fast (stop giggling at the back).

Perhaps most importantly though, these metrics only give you a snapshot of things. The Alexa rankings have historically been a bit flakey as they required the Alexa toolbar to be installed, heavily skewing things towards tech sites. It’s better now, but still not flawless. For proof of this, just look at the next slide on the deck from rival market analysis firm Similarweb: it gives Facebook an average visit length of 13:28 – about two minutes more than Alexa reckons the average person spends on it in a whole day…

Still, that doesn’t mean that these metrics aren’t useful, as long as they’re consistent with themselves. In other words, Alexa data shows that Reddit has grown massively – and that is entirely consistent with what the company itself says: in November 2017 it self-reported 250 million average monthly active users, and now it’s showing 330 million. You don’t need a slightly spurious porn link to tell you that the front page of the internet is clearly doing something right.


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