The StarTribune smeared a story about Minnesota Public Radio over 4 auto-refreshing pages on Sunday night that included stats comparing the number of page views and unique visitors of minnesota.publicradio.org, startribune.com, and minnpost.com.
In the story, they cite the following page views and unique visitor stats from Nielsen (a reputable source for website traffic reporting).
Site MPR MinnPost StarTribune
Page Views 251,000 251,000 55,000,000
Unique Visitors 67,000 79,000 2,000,000
On thing that stood out to me was that the StarTribune has a MUCH higher page views to unique visitors ratio than the other two websites. Here is what that looks like in a chart:
See what I’m saying?
So, what accounts for this difference? Here are my theories.
1. Pagination. It takes four pages to read something on the Strib that would take one page to read on either of the other two websites.
2. Comment cesspool. The site generates a ton of comments because it seems to let almost anything through, which of course generates additional page views and content for others to react to, no matter how bigoted.
3. Paginated comments. They then split up the comments into groups of 10, which generates even more page views.
4. Auto-Refresh. If you spend more than 10 minutes on the Strib, the site decides that you must want your page refreshed. Sure, you may be out for coffee, sleeping, or stuck under something heavy, but that doesn’t stop the StarTribune from “earning” additional page views because you happened to leave their website open in your browser.
5. Classifieds. The Strib seems to keep people on their primary domain for at least another page view before dropping people onto subdomains for things like new and used car searches.
6. Depth of coverage. Yes, they also generate more page views based on content. MPR and MinnPost don’t devote nearly as many resources to covering the pro and college sports franchises, nationally syndicated television shows, video game reviews, or what people are buying from Target this season. While I wouldn’t consider any of this to be news, it is certainly something that can be bundled alongside journalism in order to keep people on your site for more page views per visitor on average.
If MPR and MinnPost want to be more like the StarTribune, they should take on a ton of debt, start treating their online readers like crap, and publish more non-newsworthy content.