How many pageviews do news-oriented web sites need?

Today I ran into an interesting article from my daily feed of Online Media Daily.  If you are curious how it would look in your mailbox, it would be something like this:

Screenshot of Online Media Daily

Screenshot of Online Media Daily

Nicholas Carlson wrote an eye-catching article titled “NYTimes.com Needs 7X More Traffic To Survive (NYT)”, which summarizes the findings of an advertising study of contentNetxt.  Basically contentNext states that news-oriented web sites operations can be sustainable at the 200 million pageviews mark.

Carlson explains further:

“Based on our research, the conversation [with advertisers] gets interesting at 200 million page views plus a month, but much more so around 800 million,” ContentNext’s Lauren Rich Fine writes in a report.

For big operations, like at Yahoo (YHOO), AOL (TWS) or the New York Times (NYT), that bar needs to be even higher. In order to survive as a Web-only news product, for example, Fine says the New York Times needs about 1.3 billion pageviews a month.

That’s about 1.1 billion more pageviews than the 173 million ComScore says NYTimes.com saw in October.

Here’s a bit of a problem that I have with these numbers.  If you go to Google Ad Planner and take a look at the numbers for the New York Times, this is what you get:  490 million pageviews in a 30-day period.

Google Ad Planner shows web metrics of the New York Times.com.

Google Ad Planner shows web metrics of the NYTimes.com.

I might sound a bit picky but I wish there was more consistency in reporting a web metric such as pageviews.  As a web analytics consultant, if I was to try to understand how to increase traffic at NYTimes.com, I would start by taking a look at the trends in daily unique visitors  as to segment (or slice like a ninja, as Avinash Kaushik would say) the audience into customer experiences.  Given that I am cheap, I try to work with free data as much as possible, so free tools such as Google Trends and Google Ad Planner are my best friends.

Going back to the cited article, contentNext mentions that for news-oriented online operations, the bar needs to be set really high at more than 1 billion pageviews. Yahoo! and AOL are cited as examples.

Let’s take a macro view of the audience demographics of Yahoo!, AOL and NYtimes.com.

audience-of-yahoo-aol-and-nytimes

My conclusion is that NYTimes.com should target more its female readers (notice how Yahoo! and AOL have a bigger percentage of female visitors) and its younger readers (notice how Yahoo! and AOL have a high number of visitors on the under 18 category, that is the first bar on the age graph).

This is just a general suggestion, but it’s a start.  Besides, it’s free advice, unless of course they would like to hire a new web analytics expert. : )

What do you think?

Ideas and concepts from Damian Davila, Ecuatoriano thriving in Hawaii. Pro marketer and blogger.

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