But That's Not The Funny Part

Posted by: Jon Fine on December 30, 2005

Most read story on the Seattle Times’ Web site this year, by a mile, was about unsavory and disastrous congress with a horse.

The punchline, though, is this weirdly serious column about it from E&P’s Greg Mitchell, in which he tries to make the point that Web readership on this somehow doesn’t count, because it was linked on Drudge and so many of the readers weren’t core readers of the paper.

I totally don’t buy it. Readers is readers. Like they say: if it walks like a horse, and it quacks like a horse …

Reader Comments

Fraser

December 30, 2005 3:50 PM

And you have to question those Google Ads that go with the E&P article. "Join up with your Horse" and "Horse Training - We can help you achieve your goals" seem to be a bit inappropriate to go with this article!

Jon Fine

December 30, 2005 4:09 PM

And people say Google has no sense of humor.

Doug Fisher

December 30, 2005 10:09 PM

I don't find Mitchell's column quite so weird (though a lighter touch might have been warranted). I think his broader point, that not all Web traffic is equal, fits right into your prescriptions for remaking the newspaper highly local with highly local, comprehensive advertising. Under that scenario, the click from Timbuktu doesn't mean a whole lot. So while I'm not sure Mitchell's dismissive tone about Drudge is appropriate (I'll bet Drudge drove more than a few local readers to Seattle's site), I think the overall point that you need to be a bit more analytic when counting clicks is a good one.

Michael Odza

January 2, 2006 8:25 PM

Actually, there is a difficulty with out-of-market readers. Some local advertisers object to paying for them. And some publishers, sold on the local-local-local concept, think it distracts from that mission. And it's hard to measure when the articles that catch those out-of-market readers are sporadic and not entirely predictable. The obvious solution is to "allow" out-of-market, or national advertisers even in one's local online newspaper.

But I have another question: why doesn't the Seattle PI release its online statistics? It certainly has to submit to audits for its print circulation. (Perfect segue to self-horn tooting.) We are happy to share our online numbers. For example, representing our small newspaper (25,000 circ, which translates to 85,000 readers of the print edition, plus monthly readers ("unique users") online of 200,000), I'm proud of the fact that two of our local news items in December were picked up by Drudge Report and Google News, among others. The lieutenant governor explained that Governor Richardson touching her was no big deal--442,000 page views! And judge issues restraining order against Letterman for "signalling"--something like 50,000 views. All told we almost broke 500,000 online readers in the month, of which some 300,000 were new to the site--from Drudge, etc. We also can hope that some of them come back for more outrageous news from Fanta Se...

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