How Kim Kardashian (Just About) Broke The Internet

Unless your internet suffered a severe meltdown last week you MUST have heard about Paper Magazine’s Kim Kardashian cover. Featuring explicit photos of the reality star the cover encouraged Kardashian to “break the internet” and she nearly did. With BuzzFeed declaring clickbait to be dead and buried, we decided to use SimilarWeb to investigate whether the Kardashian cover proved this epitaph wrong.

Breaking the Internet

In the six months prior to the Kardashian cover, Paper Magazine received relatively little traffic of around 20,000 daily desktop visits. This is certainly bigger than my ancient Geocities website used to receive, but it’s a long way off rival NYMag who bring in 370,000 daily visits.

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Daily visits to Paper Magazine between May ’14 – October ’14 by SimilarWeb PRO

However, on November 11th, this all went out the window and new highs were set for Paper Magazine as the Kardashian photos were released. Using SimilarWeb’s moving window feature, we can highlight just how explosive this growth in traffic was.

November 11th saw a huge increase in traffic as over 395,000 eager pairs of eyes flocked to the Paper Magazine site. As news set in across the world a real surge of interest began to build and November 13th recorded over 6.4 million visits – a huge increase of 25,500% in three days!

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Visits to Paper Magazine in the last 28 days as of 15th November by SimilarWeb PRO

These statistics become even more staggering when you put them into the context of Pre-Kardashian traffic for Paper Magazine. Between May – October 2014 they generated 3.95 million visits in total. They nearly matched this in just 24 hours on November 12th and trounced this total on November 13th.

Where Did All This Traffic Come From?

In the 6 months prior to the Kardashian cover, Paper Magazine received only 8.75% of their traffic from referrals. This traffic was mostly spread across 3 categories: ‘News and Media’, ‘Arts and Entertainment’ and ‘Internet and Telecom’ which reflects its readership. Websites referring this traffic tended to be niche publications such as gofugyourself, deathandtaxesmag and rookiemag.

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Category share for Paper Magazine referral traffic between May ’14 – Oct ’14 by SimilarWeb PRO

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Top referring sites to Paper Magazine between May ’14 – Oct ’14 by SimilarWeb PRO

The referring categories for the last 28 days show that the interest in Paper Magazine has suddenly changed. The referrals from News and Media have doubled and ‘Internet and Telecom’ no longer register in the top 5 categories anymore. Instead, subcategories ‘Magazines’, ‘Newspapers’ and ‘TV and Video’ make their presence felt as they report on the huge buzz.

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Category share for Paper Magazine referral traffic for last 28 days as of 15th November by SimilarWeb PRO

The makeup of sites referring traffic also suffered a shocking facelift as major websites such as Buzzfeed, MTV and NYdailynews began to send the majority of this traffic. The increased presence of News and Media sites also indicated that Paper Magazine was receiving traffic from a new audience.

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Top referring sites to Paper Magazine in the last 28 days as of 15th November by SimilarWeb PRO

The geographical spread of visitors also changed after the Kardashian photos were published. SimilarWeb illustrates that, prior to the photos, over 2/3 of traffic originated in the US. However, in the last 28 days only 48% of Paper Magazines traffic comes from the US. This highlights how the international interest has significantly changed. Interestingly, it would appear that Turkey and India are big Kardashian fans as they have climbed into the top 10 traffic providing countries.

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Geographic traffic sources for Paper Magazine between May ’14 – Oct ’14 by SimilarWeb PRO

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Geographic traffic sources for Paper Magazine in the last 28 days as of 15th November by SimilarWeb PRO

How Long Does It Take to Check out Kim Kardashian?

An interesting insight we gleaned from looking at Paper Magazine’s engagement stats was that it doesn’t take long to check out Kim Kardashian. The average visit duration to Paper Magazine in the previous 6 months had been 1:09, but on November 12th this fell to just 0:37. Although the world was gripped by Kardashian fever it obviously didn’t feel like staring for too long.

The Effect of Clickbait

Our statistics have shown that clickbait is alive and well and preying on people’s curiosity to top up its lifeblood. The Kardashian cover generated traffic that was above and beyond Paper Magazine’s wildest dreams. It may not have broken the internet, but it’s generated enough publicity to keep Kim Kardashian and Paper Magazine’s names on people’s lips for some time.

This is a follow up article to the original piece

Published on: blogs.wsj.com

Publish date:13/11/2014

About the Author -

Pavel Tuchinsky is a marketing analyst and blog editor at SimilarWeb. He came from the world of International Economics, passionate fan of e-commerce and technology.

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