Looking forward to the weekend…

Too much work to do, but lots of interesting ideas going on in the background which makes a nice change. I was interviewed briefly on BBC Essex yesterday morning alongside a pretty smart American lady from HitWise. It was a pretty genial affair, even though the guy did ask me whether or not I kept a diary as a child (answer, “No, I don’t really think weblogs have anything to do with diaries”) and whether or not I have a life, to which there really aren’t answers that don’t make you sound like an arse. I’m assuming that no one who reads this thing actually heard the interview in question? I’m also assuming that no one who heard the interview came onto the web to find my site either.

Which reminds me – I got no traffic whatsoever from being mentioned in the Evening Standard. What does this mean – do people who read the Evening Standard not use the internet at all? Are they just completely uninterested in technology? Are people unable to make that context leap from a newspaper to a website without an immediate functioning hyperlink to click on? Was the article just a bit dumb? Seems to me that there’s a remarkable disjunct between lean back media and the internet. People just don’t seem to go to URLs mentioned on air. Makes you wonder a bit about all the URL-based advertising you see on TV, and why so many people seem to think it’s the only way to get traffic to your site.

15 replies on “Looking forward to the weekend…”

Golden rule, that. Print mentions aren’t worth a crap in traffic terms – as, no doubt, we all know. Even if we see something in the paper while travelling and want to look, 95% of the time we won’t get around to it and/or forget before reaching the next PC.
Radio’s pretty good though.

Re: “No, I don’t really think weblogs have anything to do with diaries”
As someone who did keep a diary I wouldn’t be so categorical about it. Some weblogs have quite a lot in common with some diaries. Not all diaries are written to be kept under lock and key: public figures often keep them with an eye to eventual publication; writers use them as a source of ideas for later writing, or to experiment with different narrative styles – same as with weblogs. And I’ve seen some great weblogs that were almost entirely diaries (some of them with an audience barely bigger than the author + me).
A lot of weblogs aren’t diaries at all, of course. But any kind of daybook that turns its gaze to the personal is straying into diary territory.

whether or not I have a life, to which there really aren’t answers that don’t make you sound like an arse
Not really a question as such, is it – more a kind of statutory insult. I’d be tempted to say “No, I work, socialise and shop online; my computer is my window on the world, my constant companion and my only true friend” – except that they’d probably believe every word.

I saw the Evening Standard article – just taken me a while to get around to looking at the site.

I tend to go to sites that I see in print but then I use the ‘net quite a lot. I’d imagine that people who aren’t quite as comfortable at reading web addresses and typing them are less likely to bother purely because it’s not logical to do so. In fact those kind of people probably skipped the article anyway. If I’d bought the Evening Standard that night and not already been a reader of your blog then I’m sure I’d have come to visit!

I wonder whether the lack of increase in traffic to your site after the Evening Standard mention is connected with the fact that has been listed in every single ‘recommended weblogs’ list printed in the last five years. Perhaps everyone who reads those kind of articles is thinking, ‘Already been there. Already seen that.’?
And of course you can’t click a link in a newspaper.

Re: your disappointment about ‘no hits’ following the mention in the ES – I’m reading it ‘cos I saw it in the ES !!!
There ARE some techno-literate ES readers …..
Keep up the good work !

URIs in traditional media just don’t cut the mustard. The interesting thing about the new digital rights organisation that I’m involved with now is that Pledgebank does this pretty little graph of the sign-up rate for the pledge. When we got Slashdotted, we got a huge jump in people signing up. Then we had a Guardian article and a BBCi article and saw no perceptible increase in sign-ups.
I suspect it’s more to do with the audience demographic than anything – the people who read Slashdot are more into blogs and digital rights etc. than the people who read the Guardian or BBCi. I wouldn’t say that this means mainstream media are dead, but it does illustrate something interesting about the lack of influence mainstream media has on online life.

Print media is usally so far behind online media (a week to get a piece commissioned, a week to write it, a few days to get it in print) that anything interesting for yer average geek in print tends to be the “Oh, I missed that!” items. I sometimes despair at how out of step some of the articles I sub are, and how little the writers know about technology (a recent one about backing up photos had no reference to Flickr until I sneaked one in, for example).
Those who rely on print tend not to be the sort of people who will care about such “new” developments. You have to write for the average reader which means dumbing down an awful lot of terminology so the real issues tend get lost in the first few explanatory paras. It’ll be a loooong time before you ever see a print article about DRM which gets beyond “pirates bad, music sales down (possibly)”.
Blogs have just about entered the mainstream consciousness, so there doesn’t need to be so much background, making articles about them fit the short space available.

Mentioning a URL on TV / radio / print doesn’t mean traffic but it can do.
I’ve made games and had them mentioned on the Steve Wright BBC Radio 2 show and seen a traffic spike of 20,000 or so.
I’ve also written articles and had them quoted extensively in The Metro and seen no traffic jump what-so-ever.
The difference is, with the game, there was a reason to try it: the presenters on the radio played it live and made it sound fun. Hence the listeners said, “Ooh, I want to try that.”
With the article, why bother visiting the site? The readers had already absorbed the salient points via the newspaper.
To put it simply: non-web promotion works only if you give people a compelling reason to look up the site.

Hello. I was just loking through the paper and saw this web site, I guess yuor sick of people writing that in your comment hey? Well, its looking good and I have to agree that blogs arnt just diaries, they are more than that, its becoming part of my life and part of expressing myself more than just writing about my day. My blog site is noted above. Take care

My experience of URLs in print echoes John Handelaars earlier comment. One of my jobs is to design press ad campaigns for films. Here are two mini “case studies” for films I have worked on in the last year:
film (a) had a huge budget for press advertising, including quarter page ads in all the quality dailies, two full pages in Time Out, right across the tabloids, and magazines. I’m guessing we reached towards the 10m mark in terms of people seeing the ads, all of which prominently displayed the URL and an enticement (a competition) to visit. The site got around 1000 hits in three months. Probably about 500 when the actual ads were running. Precious little happened online in terms of marketing.
film (b) had a much smaller ad spend, but was latched onto by a huge youth audience, who immediately spread the word by forums and blogs. Again, there was no actual online marketing per se. But at its peak it was getting 1200 hits *per day*. Small beer to you Tom I know, but cause for major excitement for this humble designer.
Clearly the reason for this is the amount of effort involved in a click, and the amount of effort involved in:
– seeing the URL on a page crowded with T&A
– remembering the URL for more than 5 minutes (considering the amount of information to be digested in a newspaper)
– on reaching a PC, having the desire to look at said advertised URL rather than midget porn as usual
– typing the darn thing in
– typing it again with instead of .com
– typing it again with a dash….
…you see my point (which John made much better and more succinctly). Until we get wifi enabled permanently online digital newspapers, I wouldn’t expect a huge amount of traffic from a press ad. BUT, the traffic you do get will be *quality* traffic. I think sometimes there’s a bit of willy-waving with hit counters…it’s not necessarily quantity that matters – for example, you will now get a million hits to this page due to my mention of “midget porn” – oops there I go again.

What does help is if the online version of the paper effectively backs up the print version (as with the Grauniad and especially the Observer) so that if someone thinks “Oh, must go and check that link in the article I threw away last week” they can do so. Registration and subscription services completely torpedo such links as no-one can be bothered registering to check. If they get blocked once, I would think they never go back again. Yes, our paper does that, and I get annoyed by it even though I get free access.

First I’ve also had a Steve Wright site of the week mention and got a fair amount of short-to-medium term traffic from it. National media is always more likely to cause a spike than very regional media.
Second, when I worked in web analytics we did some very interesting work with two television companies which taught us a great deal about when to display URLs on screen and how. I won’t go into what we found because that data cost them a lot of money but suffice to say that the difference between the worst position/timing and the best was tens of thousands of page impressions.

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