Drive-by Traffic, They Say It Like It's A Bad Thing

Drive-by Traffic, They Say It Like It's a Bad Thing

Rupert Murdoch, and a couple of his fellow newspaper-owners, say that traffic coming from search engines and aggregation sites are worthless. They call it "drive-by traffic." These users only come, read one article and then leave. For an industry profusely bleeding users and revenue, you would think they wouldn't be so discriminatory when it comes to users consuming their content. Sure, if your site gets dugg, you will experience a traffic spike for just a day or two. If that only happens once a year, it's not worth much. It's a random traffic spike that you can't plan your ad sales around.

However, there are a couple problems with that argument. First, there are lots of aggregation and social news sites - just take a look at the list on the AddThis buttons. Together, they do give a consistent amount of traffic to sites whose content are featured. If your site's any good, it'll probably get featured with some regularity. Second, search engines, on average, account for half of all traffic going to websites. I used to analyzed traffic data for Rotten Tomatoes. Since all IGN properties shared the same analytics software, I was able to check out their stats as well. Their properties get 40-60% of their traffic from from search engines. Google made up a big chunk of those referrals. So what if each of those users only came and read one article? They still read the article, saw an ad, and made money for IGN. Because they account for nearly half of IGN's users, they made a whole lot of money for them. IGN is part of News Corp. Someone there should tell Murdoch what those worthless drive-by content consumers are up to. That person should do it soon because Murdoch's telling other newspaper organizations to follow his lead and get delisted on Google.

Drive-by users are like truckers. If you own a restaurant by the freeway and half of your customers are random truckers, who cares? They still ordered and paid for food, just like your regulars. You might only see each of them once a year, but collectively they still make up a huge chunk of your business. Unlike drive-by shootings, drive-by traffic is a good thing. I pray for drive-by traffic. If you don't want them, send them my way. I'll take those "worthless" drive-by content consumers in a heart-beat.

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