Recent fluctuations in Vice’s traffic numbers let to somewhat of an uproar among industry analysts. They couldn’t figure out how a site could fluctuate so strongly. The site reported a drop of 17.4% in traffic from January to February, representing a loss of over 10 million unique visitors. Then, it reported that in March they gained all of the traffic back, nearly to the original levels. How could such a thing happen? Analysts found that the truth was that Vice was including traffic from all of its sites in their reports, which makes the sites look great for ad sales and other partnerships, but doesn’t give the true picture of what is happening on each site. The actual truth is that Vice’s main website, Vice.com, is doing just fine with steady traffic. In fact, February was the site’s biggest month ever!
This tactic is known as “traffic assignment,” and helps Vice’s ad salespeople to sell ads both for Vice but also for Vice’s smaller niche sites. The problem is that smaller niche sites are more volatile, as was shown with their first quarter numbers, which can lead many people to raise their eyebrows when they don’t know how all the numbers break down. The real culprit of the drop earlier this year was their site known as Distractify, which posts silly content that is supposed to distract you from your everyday life. The site had an astonishing 68% drop in traffic from January to February, but quickly rebounded.
Some feel that this method of traffic reporting is a bit like “fudging” the numbers, while others see it as a valuable tool to grow a network and give potential advertisers and idea of the total potential reach that is available to them. What do you think?
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