I’ve been hearing for months from the studios that the new Hollywood Reporter is sloppy with the facts. Now I know that’s the case.
TheWrap has lately experienced an exciting surge in traffic, powered by a growing staff, differentiated content and adoption of the site by fans of the entertainment industry all over the country. We also owe a debt to Charlie Sheen, who is a traffic driver of the rarest kind.
So imagine our confusion when the Reporter dumped 20 copies of this week’s issue on our doorstep where we learned in a house ad that our traffic had nosedived in January by 36%.
A cheeky claim -- or a sloppy one. The number was based on Comscore, where TheWrap is not directly measured. (More on this later.)
In fact the opposite is true. Here are the facts, and verifiable ones.
Our February 2011 traffic is up 45 percent over 2010, according to Google Analytics -- which measures our numbers internally -- from 759,803 unique visits, to 1,099,633. We had 2.5 million page views that month. (Yay!)
Our Quantcast numbers for the same period are also up significantly, from 560,748 uniques in February 2010 to 732,306 in 2011.
What’s more exciting is that our traffic has continued to grow in March, even though the peak Oscar season is over. Quantcast -- where we are measured directly -- now has us at 1.2 million global uniques, even though we lost a few days of traffic when we relaunched our redesigned TV page. (See image.)
For those who missed the THR house ad (because I’m guessing most of you did), it had the nerve to cite our traffic as 266,000 uniques for January.
Are you kidding me?
I called Comscore to ask why that number was so wrong. They allowed that THR and Deadline.com are both measured directly by Comscore, but TheWrap is not. That number is based on “panel data,” a random sample of 1 million Americans used to estimate web habits on all sites, everywhere.
How does that impact a young, niche site?
“There is more volatility in those numbers, because there are not massive sample sizes,” Andrew Lipsman, Comscore’s senior director of marketing and industry analysis told me.
That was polite, but not yet the truth. I told Lipsman that Comscore’s numbers were flat-out incorrect, and he did not deny it. “There’s an error level there which can certainly exacerbate the trends,” he allowed, adding politely, “We are providing the best measurement possible based on panel data.”
So even Comscore will not stand behind its own number for TheWrap.
The good news is that as a result of this, we will take the steps to finally be measured directly by Comscore.
And for the record, here’s where our January traffic really stood:
January 2010 was a huge, historic month for TheWrap. This year was also strong; we essentially hit the same number, down 3 percent, according to Google Analytics, and down about 6 percent according to Quantcast.
We hit 992,300 unique visitors according to Google, and 723,000 according to Quantcast for the 30-day period.
We’re thrilled with these results and all the growth that lies ahead. Others, less tendentious, have noticed, too; Mediaite just called this morning to ask about the reason for our surging traffic growth.