This article is right in my sweet spot, as I ponder how advertisers will aggregate sites like mine to make them buyable.
The logic behind this article is crystal clear: Every big online advertiser except Google misses their top-line numbers, so growth must be happening outside of the top sites. Conceptually, I love this because the more growth diversifies away from sites that can monetize themselves, the more networks bring value to advertisers by aggregating.
Practically, this is potentially very conceivable because, if we say the market is growing 30% YoY, then to keep pace, Yahoo and AOL have to grow page views 30% Y0Y and maintain their sell-through or they have to increase rates 30% and do the same thing.
As the article says, rates aren’t sky-rocketing, so page views have to grow really fast. This is hard.
Tons of things fall out of this logic:
- More people start to buy sites. Forbes.com bid on Clipmarks apparently. Sites are adding little sites to get bulk. Yahoo and AOL are buying aggressively.
- Everybody loves a social network. UGC page views are growing super fast.
Ehh, I could do more, but what I really wanted to talk about was whether this article is even correct. I went and looked at the comScore top 100 over the last 6 months and what I saw was more page views moving into the Top 10 compared to total Internet page views, and more page views moving into the top 50 compared to total Internet page views. That would imply that potentially this assertion, while seemingly logical, is just wrong. It could be that sell-through was down, or rates are down, or Internet growth slowed a bit and no one noticed.
Or it could be that I am looking at the data wrong. The Top 10 includes MySpace and Facebook, which put up great growth numbers, certainly much better than their peers in the top 10. This UGC content is kind of dismissed by NY Post, but it comprises much of the Internet today.
My next analysis of this argument would be to look at certain content areas and compare their growth rates to overall Internet page view rates. The flaw with that is that growth might be coming from the “long tail”.
This really illustrates my axe with this article. Long on fluff, short on real analysis. Ms. Sanders says “established Internet players” are suffering. Maybe I demonstrate my skew by my natural inclusion of MySpace in that bucket. Who are these “established” players? How can I identify them to find out if this is a systemic issue or a blip on some sites? Here is an article where the New York Times refers to MySpace as an “established Internet company”. I know linking to contrarian Times stuff has to leave the Post burning!