Webometric Thoughts

October 11, 2007

Nielsen’s old fashioned newspaper statistics

Filed under: Guardian,newspapers,nielsen — admin @ 7:06 pm

Nielsen Netratings have just released the latest figures for the top 10 UK print newspapers online. Whilst the Guardian continues to attract the largest number of unique users, most of the other papers are growing faster, and in terms of total minutes on a site the Guardian is in a poor fifth place after The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, and The Times.

The sites are being compared because they all fall under the umbrella of ‘UK national newspapers’, but the wide variety in the time people are spending on the sites indicates significantly different types of user behaviour: The high amount of time spent on The Daily Mail and The Sun may indicate that people are approaching these sites in the same way they do newspapers, seeing them as a whole package; whereas the significantly lower periods of time spent on the more serious newspapers (i.e., The Times, The Telegraph, and The Guardian), would seem to indicate that it is the individual stories that are of interest. Comparisons between the different newspapers are really comparing chalk and cheese. It is also pretty meaningless to purely look at UK figures, sites such as the Guardian have a significant following in the US (whereas the US has plenty of its own right-wing crappy press).

If comparisons are to be made between the newspapers, it would probably be more interesting to compare the results with the print editions’ circulation figures. Such figures would truly indicate the Guardian’s online success.

Technorati’s most popular blogs: Where are the new and exciting blogs?

Filed under: blogosphere,techmeme,technorati — admin @ 3:33 pm

The introduction of Techmeme’s leaderboard last week engineered a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about the usefulness of such lists, and whether the new list was an improvement on Technorati’s long standing top 100 most popular blogs (I even went so far as to ponder a few words myself). Thinking about these lists I decided to investigate how the Technorati popular blogs list has changed over the years, after all, if the blogosphere is a vibrant community with new exciting entrants we should see numerous changes and the emergence of innovative blogs…unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case (at least amongst the top 25 blogs).

Looking at the current top 25 blogs finds 13 of them already established in the top 100 of 28th December 2005, and of the other 12 all but three were in existence before 2006. The three ‘relatively’ new entrants are:
Mashable
icanhascheezburger.com
Peterandrej
…and of these only icanhascheezburger (which is without doubt the most pointless of the three) was established this year.

There could be a number of reasons for the lack of new entrants:
1)The blogosphere is dead (or at least dying), with few new and exciting entrants.
2)Blogs rarely emerge quickly, but rather take time to become established.
3)The lists are driving the traffic as much as they are reflecting the traffic.

Personally I don’t think the blogosphere is dead just yet, but with the traffic being driven heavily by the relatively few ‘top blog’ lists a perception may be given that it is a place where only long-serving bloggers get any traffic and potential new bloggers won’t be tempted to join the debate. To encourage growth and participation, maybe Technorati should include a chart of fast climbing blogs.

Facebook Nose-dive: Please let it be true

Filed under: Jaiku,blogosphere,facebook,iphone — admin @ 9:30 am

Over at GigaOm some statistics have been put up that show a fall in Facebook’s traffic, both in absolute user numbers and in the number of pages viewed. If it is indeed true, and I fear it may be more to do with the calculating of the figures, I would be very pleased indeed. I liked Facebook, but quickly got bored of it, and it would be nice if the fact its really ‘not all that’ was reflected in some sort of numbers. One of the things I hate about the web is the way surfers go crazy about the latest big thing.

OK, so the figures are not showing a ‘nose-dive’, and there may be a reasonable explanation for the dip in users, but more than anything it is a reminder to the blogosphere that there is a world beyond Facebook (and the other big current topic-the iPhone) and that we should really be keeping the iPhone and Facebook stories within reasonable limits. When Google bought Jaiku many bloggers felt it was necessary to explain what Jaiku was, surely if the blogosphere had been doing its job then the users would have already known what Jaiku was; unfortunately the blogosphere had been banging on about Twitter for months instead.

October 10, 2007

Is the UK Networking or Wilfing?

Filed under: Bebo,MySpace,comScore,facebook — admin @ 7:44 am

The latest research from comScore finds U.K. social networking site usage to be the highest in Europe. Whilst the UK users average 5.8 hours per month (with the heavy users’ average being 22 hours per month), the average hours per user in Germany is only 3.1 hours and in France 2.0 hours. There are two ways of viewing these result:
1) UK residents are using social networking sites to share ideas, collaborate, and come up with innovative ideas, and increased use of social networking sites will help economic growth.
2) UK residents are merely wilfing, aimlessly surfing the internet with little or no purpose (from the phrase ‘what was I looking for), and is of little productive use.

Whilst the press release lacks details on which social networking sites are being used (LinkedIn use seems likely to be more productive than MySpace), I fear that the majority of use is likely to be the big three generic sites (i.e., MySpace, Bebo, and Facebook), and people’s surfing habits have changed from aimlessly surfing the whole web to aimlessly surfing/interacting with their social network communities. Whilst I am sure that our fellow Europeans will soon catch up, I don’t think it will be something that they’ll be boasting about.

October 9, 2007

Don’t go the way of Jaiku: JUST SAY NO

Filed under: Google,Jaiku — admin @ 5:13 pm

One of the things that really annoys me is the way so many of the start-ups are willing to sell out as soon as one of the big three comes knocking on the door with an open cheque book. The latest acquisition is Jaiku by Google. It seems as though the aim for start-ups these days is not to be successful and take the web by storm, but rather be successful, attract the attention of one of the big three, and then sell out at the first opportunity.

Whilst it currently says that services will continue running the way they always have, the truth is that they won’t; they never do. Six months down the line, if not before, Jaiku users will be asked to start using a Google user name (as happened with blogger previously), and you will need a Google email account, and any password reminders or update information will be sent to your Gmail account, and slowly your whole world will turn Google.

Is Manchester the second city or just a big footballing city?

Filed under: Google Trends,Hitwise,football — admin @ 11:59 am

Hitwise has access to loads of data that I would love to get my hands on, the sort of data that would keep me busy for the rest of my academic life. It is therefore probably pure jealousy that makes me complain about some of the ways it utilises its data. Its latest post addresses the question: Which is the UK’s second city? As well as showing the traffic to the cities’ respective tourist information sites, it also shows that Manchester is searched for more often than Birmingham.

Unfortunately it fails to mention one particularly word. Football. Manchester United are the current premiership champions, whilst Manchester City ride high in the table under the previous England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. In comparison Birmingham City bob between the premiership and the championship and Aston Villa doesn’t even have Birmingham in their title!

Does football make much of a difference? Well Google trends would seem to suggest that it can. Liverpool can be seen to have shot past Manchester on the back of its footballing glories (and failures), whilst Arsenal have have captured as many hits as Manchester on occassion without the additional ‘city’ searches.

I appreciate that the purpose of these articles is to show the sort of data Hitwise can provide your company with, but these sort of analyses are just a bit annoying…but as I say, its probably just jealousy.

How quickly could Google stock crash?

Filed under: Google,share price — admin @ 9:36 am

Google shares have crossed the $600 mark. It is now officially more valuable than FedEx, MacDonalds, Coke, Intel, IBM and Wal-Mart, and analysts have predicted it could reach a share price of $700 next year. Whilst the chances are that the analysts’ ‘predictions’ will help the Google share price to reach $700 next year, personally I would sell at $699 and never look back. Google is, to misuse the phrase: oversexed, overpaid and over here.

Oversexed. Google has had excessive amounts of good will from web users of the years, and this cannot continue. Whilst the good will was initially based on the quality of its search results and its ‘do no evil’ philosophy, the search engine results which once stood out are now little better than those of other search engines, and its ‘do no evil’ philosophy fails to stand up to scrutiny. Its continued support relies as much on its being perceived as the good-guy in relation to Microsoft’s bad-guy rather than any reality, and as it becomes as big as Microsoft it will be increasingly find a less forgiving audience.

Overpaid. There is little doubt that Google has a massive online presence with its fingers in a million different pies, however most important to Google are its search engine and the Google Ads. Whilst the search engine provides an outlet for the Google Ads, its domination also provides the strong brand image that encourages people to use the ads that are then embedded in so many other web pages. However web users are a fickle bunch, and use of a service today does not necessarily mean that the service will be used tomorrow. The rise of sites like Facebook shows how quickly new companies can become major players, and just around the corner may be an idea that totally changes how we use the web, and the advertisers will want their ads on that site, not on Google.

Over here. As well as paying for the current Google company, people are paying for a organisation that they hope will keep growing. However the European and North American markets that Google has such a strong foothold in will soon stop growing; all those who will get the Internet will have the Internet. Attempts to enter the emerging markets in the far east are fraught with dangers as it has to compromise with more restrictive governments at the expense of its image in the west.

The Google share price is based on a myth, that the web will continue to be used in the way it is today, and if there are changes Google will be at the front. However, changes are likely to come from outside Google, and if the competitor holds its nerve and doesn’t sell then the Google share prices start will start falling, and then they will fall hard.

People are paying for the Google myth and if it shows any weakness there is not a lot left.

October 8, 2007

Suddenly QR codes are everywhere!

Filed under: Pet Shop Boys,QR codes — admin @ 1:47 pm
If it was 1987 then QR codes could claim to have really gone main stream, unfortunately it’s not, and therefore it is unclear whether their inclusion into the video for the Pet Shop Boys’ latest (download only) single will have any impact.


The embedded QR codes provide links to issues about civil liberties. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell the only may to access the QR codes without taking stills from the video is to download a rather hefty 49mb pdf file of 2408 pages!

So if you can’t be bothered with all that, here are the first and last QR codes:

I don’t think webometrics quite has the tools to count these links just yet.

October 5, 2007

Facebook Flyer Fun

Filed under: advert,facebook — admin @ 10:25 pm

Whilst all the Facebook pages now have bright enticing ‘Facebook Flyer‘ adverts down the side, the lack of variety in the adverts (at least in the West Midlands), and the fact the flyers don’t seem to be content driven, means that you can happily kill time finding a group that (vaguely) amusingly matches a flyer that you have seen, and then re-find the flyer with the help of the refresh button:

An advert for gay dating on an anti-gay group:

Or the chance to win an iPhone on an anti-cellphone group:

I am almost tempted to join the London network for a greater choice in the adverts…. although I am sure there are more productive ways to spend my time.

QR Codes, podcasting and the N95

Filed under: N95,QR codes,podcasts — admin @ 1:19 pm

One of the problems with N95 is that it can do so much it takes ages to try all the different bits out. The last couple of days I have been utilising a couple of the features on the N95 that I hadn’t quite got around to. I started with the podcasts, and that led me on to the QR Codes.

I have always found podcasts to be one of those things that have great potential, but I have never managed to quite get to work for me. Previously this has been due to my need to download the relevant files to my computer before transfering them to my MP3 player, which I never managed to successfully fit into my schedule. The N95 however, allows me to subscribe and download directly to the phone…podcasting is alive and well once again (although seemingly too late for Yahoo’s Podcasts site).

A topic that occured on a couple of the podcasts I subscribed to this week (one of which was Digital Planet) was QR Codes. Whilst they have been around for a number of years, and are supposedly big in Japan, they have hit the news now as they are being incorporated in an advertising campaign for the 28 days later DVD in London. Basically the 2D barcodes allows for the inclusion of over 4,000 alphanumeric characters, which can be read through a mobile phone with a camera and the required software. Some phones, such as the N95, come with the software installed, whereas others need to have it downloaded.

Personally I think that the 28 weeks later advert gets it wrong by including a URL in normal text on the bottom. QR Codes are engaging when you don’t know what they say. If I saw a QR code on its own I would scan it; seeing it with the URL for a film I don’t care about, I don’t bother because I know I am not interested. Obviously, if QR codes take off in the UK, we will become immune to most of them, and will need the extra information to persuade us that they are worth looking at. At this stage however, I believe a bigger buzz would have been created without it…but there again some of the other views of the people behind the campaign are quite questionable.

Personally I like the potential of the QR codes, and I am currently trying to get a T-shirt printed with my own personalised QR code message on it.

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