Does Ello’s Sudden Rise In Popularity Herald A New Era Of Social Media?

The latest social network to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue is the rebellious Ello which launched earlier this year and promises an ad-free experience. The concept of an ethical service, where your data isn’t being sold on to others, has engaged the online community and Ello’s popularity has suddenly soared. Is this anti-commercialization angle from Ello just a flash in the pan gimmick? Or is it going to convert enough users to start a revolution in social networks? To try and answer this we used SimilarWeb to take a closer look.



If we look at the past three months we can see that there has been a meteoric rise in the number of desktop visits to Ello. August 2014 recorded just over 745,000 visits which is a nice figure for a fledgling website. However, just one month later and buoyed by numerous news stories, visits had multiplied by an astonishing 3328% with 25.5 million visits!

Ello seems to have turned into the hottest ticket in town and would appear to be on an unstoppable trajectory to dominance. Using SimilarWeb PRO’s Last 28 Days feature we were able to scrutinize this data on a day-by-day perspective.
The last week of September saw Ello receiving the majority of their 25.5 million visits, but since the start of October these figures have dropped dramatically to just over 1 million visits per day. Although these figures are well above the pre-surge levels it does appear that the hype has dropped off.


Last 28 days of traffic for Ello as of October 9th 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

Global Reach

What’s interesting to note is the global reach that Ello have managed to achieve in such a short space of time. SimilarWeb PRO illustrates how more than half of Ello’s traffic originates from outside its native US.


Top countries sending traffic to Ello between July 2014 – September 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

Despite the network still being in Beta, the geography of its users can give us insights into which countries are clamouring for a simplistic ad-free social network. By sorting the geographical traffic share by the ‘change’ parameter in SimilarWeb PRO we can see which countries are experiencing an explosion in growth. The results are intriguing as they show rapid growth in South America, The Middle East, Europe and Asia. Brazil aside, these stats indicate there is plenty of growth to come for Ello in different regions.


Top 10 countries showing growth in traffic sent to Ello between July 2014 – September 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

Traffic Sources

We always like to analyze the DNA of a website by looking at the breakdown of its traffic sources. SimilarWeb PRO shows that between July – September 2014 it’s a fairly balanced picture with a strong brand presence created by Direct sources and a significant portion of social traffic.


Breakdown of traffic sources for Ello between July 2014 – September 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

Given that Ello competes in the social network industry, we decided to dig deeper into that niche and see what type of buzz it was creating online. In August 2014, Ello brought in 150,000 visits from social sources and the majority of these were from Twitter.


Social network traffic share for Ello in August 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

However, since Ello went viral in September, the strands of DNA have mutated and social visits have skyrocketed to 8 million. Facebook now provides the majority of this traffic with around 215,000 visits per day and the rest of the social media channels providing just over 71,000 visits per day. This is quite a change from 150,000 visits in the whole of August!


Social network traffic share for Ello for the last 28 days as of October 18th 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO


If Ello is to stand a real chance of attracting and maintaining a huge audience then they need to make sure users are engaged. To evaluate this we compared their engagement metrics against rivals Facebook and Reddit.

Between July and September 2014 Ello managed to increase their average visit duration from 3 minutes to 6 minutes. A 100% increase in such a short period of time is impressive, but note that Facebook achieved an average visit duration of 19 minutes and Reddit managed a figure of 14 minutes. Ello are still well behind in this particular engagement metric.


Average visit duration for Ello, Facebook and Reddit between July 2014 to September 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

The bounce rate for a website is always a fascinating insight into just how engaged visitors are. A low bounce rates indicates more visitors stay on that site rather than ‘bouncing’ elsewhere. Ello comes in with the lowest bounce rate of our three social networks with a figure of 18.95% compared to Reddit (26.48%) and Facebook (19.9%). Visitors can only enter Ello if they have been invited, so Ello’s bounce rate of 18.95% indicates a high level of interest where only a minority lost the buzz instantly.


Bounce Rate for Ello, Facebook and Reddit between July 2014 – September 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

Will Ello Continue Surging Upwards?

Ello has certainly taken some big steps during its infancy and this has been down to a unique ad-free benefit and some luck when it comes to emerging news stories. Will Ello go on to become the biggest social network known to man? It’s far too early to say, but it’s certainly proved that the public have an appetite for ad-free social interaction. It also brings up a discussion concerning whether there is an alternative method for monetizing social networks. Given that Ello has managed to shift huge numbers of traffic it’s certainly a model that needs investigation.

About the Author -

Ari is the Sr. Director of Corporate Marketing at SimilarWeb. He has spent the last decade in ad-tech working on the agency side of the business before jumping over to Kenshoo where he launched their marketing activities. He also led the marketing for Adquant, a Facebook ad platform, making it a top 10 Facebook PMD prior to its acquisition.

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