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Hidden traffic drivers at top tier sites August 14, 2007

Posted by jeremyliew in ad networks, advertising, business models, Consumer internet, Internet, web 2.0.
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Glam has received a lot of attention recently, with many noting that its Comscore traffic is a rollup of multiple sites, some Glam branded, but most part of an affiliate network.

While Glam is more like a vertical ad network (which it readily admits to), there are many other well known sites that derive meaningful amounts of their Comscore traffic from unexpected sources. Among Comscore’s top 100 web properties, Ask, CNet, the New York Times, Move.com and iVillage all also generate the majority of their network pageviews from sites other than their namesake:

traffic analysis for top network sites.

The non-namesake traffic was mostly driven through acquisition, although in some cases (e.g. Zwinky) the growth was organic. In many other examples though, acquisitions have been absorbed into the URL structure of the acquiring company. Yahoo for example acquired Launch (now music.yahoo.com), Hotjobs (now hotjobs.yahoo.com) Geocites (now geocities.yahoo.com), among others, all of which now roll up under the Yahoo.com URL.

Whether ad networks or acquisitions, Comscore’s “media property” reporting often includes a lot more than the namesake URL in the rollup. While this can come as a surprise to the unwary, it is no surprise to the people that matter – the people who are buying online advertising. As one media buyer commented on the Techcrunch article about Glam (abridged quote):

As an online media buyer, perhaps I have a different opinion then most of the outsiders commenting on the sidelines. I use comScore and NetRatings on a daily basis for planning media spends targeting large audiences online… The only way to measure the audience that any large media property reaches is through a panel based media measurement tool like comScore… It does not matter if they own a site or have a partnership with them.

This stuff is no big secret.

Comments»

1. Zamboni Rodeo - August 17, 2007

Fundamental difference – all of the “notable others” listed there are actually owned by the parent, except for those under Glam’s “property” listing.

From a media buying perspective, the difference may not matter. From the perspective of trying to pitch investors, it absolutely matters. And how does Glam reconcile its pitch as being a “network for women” with the fact that its largest source of traffic is a website for high schoolers without any sort of gender focus?

2. Chad - August 23, 2007

I appreciate Zamoni Rodeo’s comment above. It speaks to the superfluous credence given to webstats and page views. What needs to be discussed far more is the number of page views from the applicable audience.


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