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Slow mobile loading threatens newsbrands

News, 23 May 2017
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GLOBAL: Newspapers ought to be well placed to capitalise on recent brand safety concerns but they could end up losing out as new research shows their mobile sites take longer to load than most people are prepared to wait.

The latest Mobile Web Intelligence Report, from mobile device data expert DeviceAtlas, was based on testing of mobile web performance on 3G networks of some of the largest daily newspaper websites in 18 countries around the world.

This found that 50 of the world's most popular newspaper websites took an average of 10.5 seconds to load, with the slowest websites taking between 19 and 22 seconds before being accessible. Such metrics – and the website architecture – are especially important as regards news content, which is often consumed on-the-move and in locations where WiFi or LTE may be unavailable.

But even the average is more than three times longer than many people will wait, said DeviceAtlas, citing Google research that found 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if pages took longer than three seconds to load.

Load time delays inevitably lead to higher bounce rates and fewer pages per session, it noted.

Newspaper websites in India – where four were tested, all of which used URL redirection to a mobile-specific site – were found to be fastest to load on mobile, at 7.7 seconds on average. Similar websites based in European countries were a lot slower, for example, 12.2 seconds in Italy and 12.8 seconds in Spain; the UK came in at 8.9 seconds and the US at 10.4 seconds.

The study also calculated the page weight on a site and reported that this averaged 1.35MB on mobile, with the heaviest ones being twice that or more; the lightest news websites were as little as 350KB.

Slow-loading sites are not only a revenue loser for publishers and an annoying inconvenience for users, they can also be a drain on users' data allowances and, potentially, their pockets.

According to DeviceAtlas's research, a single visit to a bandwidth-heavy website, such as the Austria-based Krona.at could result in an estimated cost of up to $0.49 in Brazil, $0.50 in Japan, and $0.72 in Canada.

Data sourced from DeviceAtlas; additional content by WARC staff

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