How many people read Gawker?

Überblog Gawker is running a house

ad between the fourth and fifth entries on its homepage. "SPONSORSHIP"

it says:

"Gawker, part of the largest weblog media group, reaches over 600,000 media

junkies each month."

This comes as something of a surprise to those of us who doubt that there are

over 600,000 media junkies in the known universe. But there’s no easy way of

checking: unlike sister sites Wonkette and Defamer, Gawker doesn’t have a Sitemeter

button which makes its site stats public.

Today, however, Gawker publisher Nick Denton put a little

graph up on his personal weblog, charting pageviews per month for all of

the Gawker properties. Here it is:

If you’re an ultranerd, you can download the graph, open it up in Photoshop,

and look at it magnified so that all the juicy bits of data are a bit more obvious.

Once you’ve done that, you can use Photoshop’s measure tool to work out approximate

pageviews per month for the most recent month, June. In order of popularity,

we get:

Site Pageviews in June
Fleshbot 6.9m
Gizmodo 3.0m
Gawker 2.7m
Wonkette 2.2m
Defamer 1.3m
Kinja 0.4m

Caveat: these are rough numbers, although they probably overstate the real

ones: if you look at Wonkette’s official

stats, for instance, they show just under 2m pageviews in June. But they’ll

do as a rough guide, and from them we can certainly learn a fair amount.

1. The flagship Gawker property has actually seen a substantial decrease

in pageviews month-on-month. This isn’t a reversion-to-mean after a big spike,

either: looking at the graph, it certainly seems as though people are getting

a little bored with Gawker, and moving on to other things – maybe, even,

other Gawker Media weblogs. With Gawker editor Choire Sicha being elevated

to a broader Editorial Director role, is it time to juice up Gawker with fresh

blood? After all, the flagship is meant to be the biggest and the best, and

Gawker is now languishing in third place when it comes to size.

2. As suspected, Kinja is nowhere, barely registering on the graph. (It’s

that dark yellow band near the top.) Denton put an enormous amount of time,

energy and money into Kinja, and at this point I think it’s safe to say that

it didn’t work out.

3. Fleshbot is now clearly the single most popular Gawker site. Pace

Jason Calacanis at the Apple Store event,

does that make Nick Denton a pornographer? It’s certainly something which

I’m sure he doesn’t stress overmuch during his media

lunches at Lever House.

4. Gizmodo seems not to have been damaged at all by the defection of Pete

Rojas to Engadget, and in general the brands are much stronger than the writers.

Look at what happened to Gawker pageviews after Elizabeth Spiers left for

New York magazine last year: they almost trebled, from about 0.8m in October

to about 2.3m in November.

But back to the original question: can Gawker reasonably claim that it reaches

600,000 media junkies per month? I originally spent three convoluted paragraphs

here turning pageviews into visits and visits into visitors, ending up with

the conclusion that no, it couldn’t. Then I found this

page, which has all of Gawker’s site stats. And I was right: Gawker had

just 375,000 unique visitors in June.

Even more interesting, that’s the lowest number of the year so far, if you

don’t include Februrary, which seems to be a very weird outlier. The record

was set in May, with 589,000 unique visitors; June saw a nasty 36% plunge from

May’s numbers. But even if the ad copy was written before June’s numbers were

in, Gawker has never had more than 600,000 unique visitors in any given

month. And at present rates, it looks as though it could be a very long time

until it does.

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24 Responses to How many people read Gawker?

  1. Nichelle says:

    You trumped the data dump and posted on a Friday afternoon…clever!

  2. jake says:

    is trebled the same as tripled?

    also: i think the awstats is not accurate for june, because nick moved the site to a new server about halfway through the month, as he did with all the gawker properties.

  3. jake says:

    looking more closely, those numbers just don’t make sense to me. for instance, gothamist got 4 million page views, or about 750,000 unique sessions in june.

    gawker does at least three times as much traffic as goth on a daily basis- not just based on what nick tells me, but also based on the alexa rankings (11000 vs 22000). so 375k unique gawker sessions definitely seems too low. i’d check the measuring tool again, felix!

  4. Felix says:

    Jake — Don’t take my word for it, take Nick’s! Look at his graph — clearly Gawker got less than 4 million pageviews in June. Then check out the awstats — June is completely in line with Jan, Feb and March. Also, if Gawker dropped in June because of server-moving issues, you’d expect that to show up in the other sites as well, and it doesn’t.

    But it wasn’t 375k unique gawker sessions — there were just over 1m visits to Gawker in June. It’s 375k unique visitors.

    I’d also note that the Gothamist pageview stats are boosted by the fact that your pageviews-per-visit will be much higher than Gawker’s.

    But I did think of one thing — Gawker did recently start serving up a full Atom feed, rather than the truncated RSS feed they were serving before. If people have moved en masse to Atom (which I doubt, since the move wasn’t announced anywhere as far as I could see), then they will have much less incentive to actually visit the site. On the other hand, none of the RSS pages are in the Gawker top 10, so that one doesn’t ring too true.

    Factoid we do find on the awstats page, though: total page views for the Art of Speed blog were 39k in June and just under 9k in July. Even felixsalmon.com got more than that…

  5. jake says:

    it’s interesting- i suppose you could be right. side note: i think the RSS is counted in awstats- b/c the server wouldn’t know the xml from any other page ending- at least, that’s how it is in our server logs. recently, RSS has begun to hit almost 15% of our traffic.

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  7. Nick Denton says:

    The gawker.com numbers are all messed up. Results on searches on other sites used to be served up on gawker.com, and are no longer, and we’ve had issues with the counting of includes. If you look at Alexa, gawker.com has been on an since April. Felix, you’re far too experienced a financial journalist to base an argument on one month’s numbers — particularly one month’s dodgy web numbers!

    Most of the other points are fair enough, including the conclusion that Kinja’s been a flop. I do think, in your splendid preoccupation with weblog minutiae, you’ve overlooked one salient feature of the chart: the line goes up. Traffic to the Gawker sites is up tenfold in a year. That, even with wobbly measurement of statistics, may qualify as a trend.

  8. Felix says:

    Very interesting comment from Nick above. I think what he’s saying is that up until June, if I went to Gizmodo or Wonkette or Fleshbot and did a search, the results would be served on Gawker, and count as a Gawker pageview. What I think this means is that the April and May Gawker numbers can be considered exaggerated, and the June numbers more accurate. In other words, the June numbers are LESS dodgy, not more, than the previous months’.

    This goes double for the “unique visitors”, by the way, since there will be a lot of Fleshbot searchers, say, who never visit Gawker but who used to be counted as unique visitors to Gawker. They won’t be goosing the “unique visitors” stats any more, and I stand by my prediction that Gawker isn’t going to hit the 600,000 level any time soon, on any metric.

    That said, I don’t really understand what Nick means when he says “we’ve had issues with the counting of includes”. Presumably it’s something to do with what happens to pageview stats when a page is loaded — they can be overcounted, but can’t really be undercounted. I’d need a lot more detail to be convinced that somehow the 375,000 number understated the reality.

    As for Alexa, I trust internal awstats much more than the Alexa rankings, which show The Kicker (which has been a blank page for weeks) to be much more popular than, say, Buzz Machine.

    That said, I’m happy to congratulate Nick on the fabulous success of Gawker Media — Fleshbot, especially, has been a huge success, and Gizmodo is still significantly more popular than Engadget — and even more popular than Gawker, it would seem. If you expand your field of vision from the tree of Gawker to the forest of Gawker Media, then there’s no doubt that Denton is doing extremely well.

  9. Nick Denton says:

    Felix — You’ve fallen victim to a common confusion. Alexa doesn’t measure sub-domains. If you look at the Alexa page for The Kicker, you’ll see that the ranking given is the same as that given for the whole of nymetro.com. Alexa doesn’t distinguish.

    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/?url=nymetro.com/

    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/?url=thekicker.nymetro.com/

    But, frankly, Felix, I’m more concerned about *your* traffic trends. I hope you won’t take this the wrong way: Alexa shows your reach per million users falling from 1.4 in the Apr-Jul frame, to 0.5 in the last week, to zero today, on the day after your loving analysis. I can understand why you would distrust the Alexa numbers, and you may be right. The alternative is unpalatable: there just aren’t that many media obsessives out there. I’m reading you though, and will download an Alexa toolbar, specially.

  10. Felix says:

    Point taken on The Kicker: my bad.

    As for my own Alexa ranking, I’m frankly stunned I’ve got one. Do come back with your toolbar, though: my ranking will probably rise at least 50,000 or so…

    I should also say in Nick’s defense that the universe of potential Gawker readers is much smaller than the universe of potential Gizmodo readers or potential Fleshbot readers. If Gawker is levelling out at this point, maybe it’s just because it’s already reaching the majority of people who could conceivably be interested in it. It’s a good strategy for starting a weblog empire: first launch a media blog which will get loads of media coverage, and then launch other blogs which will also get loads of coverage because of the association with the original media blog. Smart thinking, that Denton…

  11. jake says:

    I’m happy to play tech nerd in this conversation: by counting includes, nick means that various pieces of the gawker page load separately as Server Side Includes. The server has a tendency to count each of these pieces of a page as a page, so you can’t just look at the “page views” from the server and make a conclusion. what you have to do is look at the number of times any one include has loaded that month.

    for instance, to get to my gothamist numbers, I look at the number of times the right column include (rightcolumn.php) has loaded, because since the goth front page is made up of about 5 includes, the number of page views the server registers is 20 million, which is 5 times too high.

  12. Felix says:

    That’s what I thought Nick meant about includes. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but there’s no way that a glitch in the counting of includes can undercount the reality, right? So I can easily believe that April and May’s Gawker numbers were artificially exaggerated, but I still don’t see how June’s could be unrealistically low.

  13. Jason says:

    Nice post.

    If you look at Gizmodo.com vs. Engadget.com and the whole brand vs. blogger debate I think you should look at the fact that in just three months Engadget.com is getting *about* the same traffic as Gizmodo.com–which is over two years old!

    The Kicker debate doesn’t matter because ES didn’t put as much effort into it as she did Gakwer. Had she done her own blog I think by now she would have the same traffic–if not more–then Gawker.

    Now, being two years old gives Gizmodo.com a huge advantage over Engadget.com due to the Google searches, which is where all of use get a ton of traffic.

    Comparing our numbers to Gizmodo’s it turns out over the past two weeks we have actually exceeded their numbers twice. Very cool.

    All blogs are trending up, so what you have to look at is the fact that Engadget.com basically caught up to Gizmodo in just three months time. Think about that… it’s amazing. What will happen in the next three months?

    Clearly Gizmodo.com isn’t going away because Peter left, however I can tell you Engadget.com will greatly exceed Gizmodo’s numbers over the next 3-6 months. If that becomes the case the lesson I take away from it is:

    A blogger leaving and starting another brand won’t kill the origional brand, but it can take the #1 brand and make it the #2 brand in less then six months. That is scary, but it makes a ton of sense. If Shaq goes from the Lakers to the Heat, the Heat become the #1 team and Lakes fall down a couple of notches. Do the Lakers stop making money or go out of business? Of course not, but they are no longer #1 and they will NOT beat the Miami Heat on most nights.

    Peter is the Michael Jordon/Shaq of the gadget space–no one else compares. If Peter left Engadget.com and started “gadget blog #3″ I would expect that he would beat both Gizmodo.com and Engadget.com. I don’t have an ego about that fact, and that is why I made Peter a partner in the business… I don’t want to be the guy who let Shaq/Jordon walk out the door like Nick did. However, Nick did what was correct for him and his business and I respect that.

    Before anyone blows this up into Nick vs. Jason round 17 you should know that Nick and I are 100% cool with each other, and you might see us working on some things together in the near future.

    I think Nick and I both know we are Pepsi and Coke, Burger King and McDonalds, Bert and Ernie (maybe not that last one). Nick might be #1 at travel and WIN #2, we might be #1 at gadgets and Nick #2… same for video games. The bottom line is that I think you’ll see WIN and Gawker battling it out for the #1 and #2 slots in some of these verticals over the next year or two and that will be a good thing.

    It helps that we both go after the same spaces because every advertiser Nick evangelizes we don’t have to, and vice versa. Two or three professional blogs in a space makes a marketplace, and a marketplace=validity. The best thing that could happen, for example, to Curbed.com would be for someone to launch a similar blog… then people could pick which one to advertiser on or read. In most cases they would advertise and read both. Competition is a great thing… I live for it. I wish Nick would launch a baby and car blog, it would make us work even harder.

    I know Nick and I both take the gadget space more seriously because there are two of us.

    Also, I’ve learned a lot from Nick through all of this. We spend a lot more time on logos and selecting a great domain name, and we are paying some writers instead of doing a revenue share. So, Nick’s been correct about a ton of stuff in this space and we are certainly picking up a lot of tips from him.

    All that being said, I will bet anyone dinner at Nobo that Enadget.com will exceed Gizmodo’s traffic by October 1st (except if Nick makes it a hybrid porn+gadget blog :-).

    best jason

  14. Felix says:

    So, Jason, does that mean you’re going to follow Nick’s lead and make your site stats public?

  15. Jason says:

    Are you nuts?! Please.

    Giving out the site stats is *not* a good idea for a publisher–I’m shocked Nick does it to be honest.

    Nick has basically explained to all possible competitors how his business is running.

    For example, anyone looking at those number now knows that starting a porn blog is an excellent idea… there is no other branded porn blog out there, but after sending out those numbers I’m sure you will see a couple (not from us… we don’t do porn).

    Of course, Nick will get some attention from the numbers, and the numbers are impressive no doubt. So, that is the argument for giving them out.

    I’m psyched to see the numbers… I’ve learned a lot from looking at them, that’s why I wouldn’t put our numbers out there. We have 49 blogs… why would I want to let the world know which five are the best?!?! Why would I want to let them know which five were ramping up quickest?!?!

    Transparency is good… giving away trade secrets–not good.

  16. Actually, as I’ve begun explaining weblogs to potential advertisers in the babyspace–Don’t bother, Nick, there’s no money in it–who are accustomed to buying print (ABC numbers and subscriber bases, the amorphous ‘pass-along’) I’ve begun thinking about how typical weblog reader behavior translates into actual individuals, as opposed to just the standard-but-less-accurate unique visitors.

    Say I visit FelixSalmon weekly, but Fleshbot like 100x/day, just hoping that Jonno’s posted something new (purely a hypothetical example, you understand). Or rather, to avoid the irrational fascination with Cameron “I can’t survive on HDTV” Diaz’s rack, let’s look at a Gawker habit of even one or two visits/day:

    2.7m pageviews, 375k unique visitors, 22 weekdays in June = 17k once-a-day visitors, or 8.5k 2x/day regulars. Keep going, and you could account for most of Gawker’s traffic just by adding the populations of NY-centric bloggers, publicists, and Conde Nast assistants.

    Not to rain on Gawker’s parade, far from it. What Nick’s numbers don’t show is that I’m at once a media junkie/wonk wanna-be/Hollywood hanger-on/gadget freak/… um, we’ll leave it at that. Gawker Media’s not “reaching 600,000″ anybodies, it’s broadening and deepening it influence with 20,000 somebodies. Sounds like a good datapoint for the “What’s important is who you’re reaching” argument , but it’s a different proposition from the ones still used to quantify ‘value,’ especially as it is realized in comparable mediums.

    Anyway, none of Nick’s numbers give out any more sensitive strategic info than you could find digging through media kits and ABC, for example. On the other hand, once the Gawker Media cookie shows up, Nick’ll be able to compile a massively granular database of the sexual predilections of the media elite, which would indeed be worth a pretty penny.

  17. jake says:

    it’s actually pretty easy to figure out the traffic on jason’s blogs- if you know enough public site stats, and you know their corresponding rankings in Alexa, you can do a simple linear regression that maps an Alexa ranking to an approximate amount of traffic per day. Taking a statistical sample for public blogs would make it even more accurate- i bet you wouldn’t need more than 20 or so blogs with public stats to make pretty accurate guesses on their daily traffic. i’d use three or four days worth of Alexa datapoints for each site, though, just to make things fair.

    Another way to get very accurate numbers: just buy an advertisement on the site in question. for instance, we are advertising on blogging.la right now- at a very fair price of $55/month. In addition to getting good blog eyeballs going to LAist, we get a very accurate number on the impressions they get per day, week, etc, so we can track and plan for the future.

    Side note: I am willing to bet a dinner at Nobu that no other local-oriented blog beats Gothamist.com in average daily traffic for the period beginning today and ending at the end of the year. Provided Gothamist still exists, of course.

  18. jake says:

    “Peter is the Michael Jordon/Shaq of the gadget space–no one else compares. If Peter left Engadget.com and started “gadget blog #3″ I would expect that he would beat both Gizmodo.com and Engadget.com. I don’t have an ego about that fact, and that is why I made Peter a partner in the business…”

    if this is true, then why doesn’t someone just offer peter 75% of the revenue and equity in the site? and then why doesn’t peter just hopscotch that publisher to 85% ownership at publisher #4? in fact, why doesn’t peter just leave all of you and take 100% of the site, and pay an advertising network 25% to book ads for the site? that’s kind of what we do- it just doesn’t make sense to give someone 50% of your dough when you are the driver in the network.

    i believe this truly: writers don’t need publishers. movabletype and the other tools are enough. all you need is a good partner selling ads- and you have a better shot at that on the open market than making some partner relationship with a publisher. if you are an unknown, sure- sponsorship helps to launch the site- but then just take it and run. throw off your chains!

    so if you are an A-list blogger, and want to go it alone, go! plenty of people are available to get you set up- and most of us would do it for free- just to keep the playing field level. coke and pepsi be-damned- why should you let one or two people control the whole space?

  19. Lock says:

    In point of fact, the best thing that could happen to Curbed.com would be for someone to take its publisher to Nobo. Provided, of course, Nobo still exists.

    Meantime, Dobkin, baby — back on the meds for you!

  20. greg.org says:

    It does, I just saw an advertisement for it on my Sunny Watchman.

  21. Ping Pang says:

    My favorite thing about Engadget is their commitment to stay ad-free. I think that takes a lot of balls.

  22. krucoff says:

    Man, I heard some shit was going down here. Alexa numbers are fun but I wouldn’t trend or extrapolate that data with anything but other Alexa numbers. Even then, only to make a joke.

    That said, it’s been weeks since The Other Page eclipsed LockhartSteele.com’s Alexa ranking so bring it on Lock!! The loser by Labor Day buys lunch for the other at the Montauk Ditch Witch. Bentley ride included!

    Anyway, about one of the more serious points here, I think the comment about Gawker being Nick’s flagship but getting less traffic than Gizmodo or Fleshbot was corrected when you admitted Gawker’s potential universe is simply much less than gadget and porn lovers. (A crude example: When I did my guest-stint on Gawker I asked my brother way out in the boonies of Bethesda, MD who is very interested in politics and media but not so much New York insidery stuff what he thought of how I did. His reply: “I really liked the link to that Fleshbot site.” Uh yeah, thanks big bro, but I didn’t even link to Fleshbot in any of my posts.)

    So, Gawker is the “flagship” only in the sense that the New York media scene is obsessed with it and that makes Nick (and Choire too obviously) cool poster boys and well-known with an influential (we presume) audience. I am positive that the vast majority of Gawker’s loyal readers know who’s behind it while Fleshbot fans would say “Nick who?”

  23. Lock says:

    Krucoff, as promised, I’ve downloaded the Alexa toolbar and am sitting here reloading LS.com as I type these very words. See you in Ditch Plains, baby — hope you’ve got the Big B gassed up!

  24. blogger says:

    I think that same ad runs on all of their sites. Maybe they mean Gawker Media, as in all of the sites, do that traffic.

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