High interest in news on Ukraine seen in search, traffic to media sites

By Greg Piechota


Oxford, United Kingdom


Since the Russian invasion on Ukraine, traffic to news sites increased 40% in Europe and 25% in North America, according to exclusive data of 4,540 media Web sites worldwide shared by Chartbeat, an online analytics company.

This is another signal of the spike in global demand for news reported by INMA last week. Chartbeat’s broad data set provided though more insight into what’s going on the media sites. 

  • Unsurprisingly, Russia’s attack on February 24 brought a sharp increase in both pageviews and aggregated engaged time globally, but the increases were mostly in Europe and North America, noticed Bonnie Ray, head of data science at Chartbeat.

  • She saw the largest increase in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, with 40% increase in pageviews and 50% increase in total engaged time. In North America, she observed a 25% spike in pageviews and 33% in engaged time.

  • Since February 24, both pageviews and engaged time have declined to pre-war levels in North America but continued to remain elevated in Europe, although not to the extent seen on the war’s first day.

Another way to measure demand for news is to track search volumes on Google. In the first week of March, interest in news as a genre reached 71% of the COVID pandemic peak in March 2020. 

My analysis of trends in individual countries showed that the closer to Eastern Europe, the higher the bump in search for news. 

  • For example, in the United States it reached the level comparable to 2020 U.S. presidential elections or 59% of the 2020 pandemic peak. 

  • At the same time, in Germany the war has become bigger news than the pandemic already (117% of the pandemic peak).

  • In Poland — where more than a million Ukrainian women and children seek refuge — the demand for news more than doubled (232% of the pandemic peak).

Greg’s Readers First newsletter is a public face of a revenue and media subscriptions initiative by INMA, outlined here. Subscribe here. 

About Greg Piechota

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