According to the official story put out by the White House press office, Trump administration chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff John Kelly “mutually agreed” that Bannon’s last day in the West Wing was Friday. Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign late last summer from Breitbart News, where he was executive chairman, has already announced that he is returning to his former job.
In addition to being one of the most controversial media websites around, Breitbart.com is also one of the most successful. According to website marketing research firm SimilarWeb, Breitbart ranks 188th largest overall in the United States, which may sound kind of low unless you know that there are an estimated 378 million U.S. websites.
Breitbart News and Breitbart.com were founded in 2007 by conservative news commentator Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart died in 2012 and ownership of the site passed to his widow, Susie Breitbart, along with co-founder and current CEO Larry Solov, and the Mercer family, which contributed $10 million to endow the site in 2011, according to a report at Newsweek.
In January of 2017, Breitbart claimed a total of more than 2 billion pageviews in 2016, 45 million unique monthly visitors and a position as the 45th most popular U.S. website. That put it ahead of Fox News, Huffington Post, Washington Post and Buzzfeed in the popularity rankings. In February the site reached 29th, higher than PornHub and ESPN.
By May, Breitbart had fallen to 281st, according to Alexa rankings reported by Vanity Fair. According to SimilarWeb, site traffic had dropped from more than 95 million pageviews in February to 79 million in July, a decline of 18%. Nearly 85% of July traffic originated in the United States.
In addition to the main Breitbart.com websites, the company produces sites focused on London, Jerusalem, Texas, and California.
More than 62% of Breitbart’s traffic is generated directly, while about 14% is generated by referrals from other websites, just over 9% is generated by search and nearly 13% is generated by social media.
Of the top referring sites, Drudge Report generates more than 62% of the Breitbart’s page referrals. That represents a drop of 4.6% month over month. No other website generates more than 4% of Breitbart’s referrals.
The top destination site for Breitbart traffic is Twitter, which gets just over 15% of clicks. YouTube gets 7.2% of destination clicks and Facebook gets about 6%. Those totals represent declines of 27% for Twitter and 2% for YouTube, while clickthroughs to Facebook rose by nearly 8%.
Social media accounted for nearly 13% of Breitbart traffic in July. More than 61% came from Facebook, about 23% came from Twitter and 12.4% came from Reddit. YouTube generated just 2.3% of Breitbart’s traffic.
In March of this year, there were 242 brands advertising on the Breitbart site. By May that number had dropped to just 26, according to MediaRadar. A Twitter account for Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) reported that as of June a total of 2,200 advertisers worldwide had committed to stop advertising on Breitbart and similar sites. According to Digiday, most remaining advertisers are conservative brands that buy ads programmatically.
The deep pockets of Robert Mercer, founder of investment management firm Renaissance Technologies, and the Mercer family may be able to overcome the loss of advertising at Breitbart, and the return of Steve Bannon with his take-no-prisoners style could reverse the falling traffic numbers.