October 07, 2007

Alexa Web Statistics Show Old Media Influence Nosedive

As flawed as Alexa's Web statistics can be, a quick array of searches displays a very clear message - that traditional media portals, including CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and even more trendy media monoliths, like ESPN.com, are dramatically slipping in overall rankings, losing visitors to new media by the droves - no matter how you dice the data.

Sites that used to be among the top visited sites in all the Web have plummeted, as fickle Web visitors have turned their attention away from the brands they once relied on to new brands that have taken their place, including, unsurprisingly, Facebook, YouTube, and major blogs, like TechCrunch and Engadget.

This change, according to Alexa's statistics, has accelerated, first starting in 2005, and at an increasing pace over the last two years.

For example: CNN, a top 20 site as recently as the second half of 2005, has plummeted below 100, nearing 120th overall.

The New York Times, a top 50 site in early 2006, has roller coastered down to nearly 300 overall.

The Washington Post, a rising star in 2005, peaked below 150 in early 2006, and has collapsed to nearly 1,000 today.

It's not just an East Coast phenomenon. The LA Times, one of the top 500 sites on the Web just 18 months ago, has recently seen its ranking dip below the 2,000 level, with no sign of a rebound.

Moving north, SFGate.com, home to the San Francisco Chronicle, has paralleled the LA Times fall, from above 500 at the beginning of last year, to nearly 2,000 overall today.

And the drop isn't limited to only newspaper sites. ESPN.com, part of the Go.com corporate family, representing 60+% of the network's traffic, according to Alexa, has dropped from the top 20 levels to around 50 today.

This isn't to say all is bad. In the place of old media, Web visitors are taking their traffic elsewhere. One major stop: YouTube - a top 5 site that was virtually nowhere just two years ago.

TechCrunch, invisible before the end of 2005, has catapulted into the top 1,000, passing up both the LA Times and SFGate.com site, set to pass the Washington Post next.

Engadget, from the 6,000 range in 2005 to between 500 and 1,000 overall today.

Facebook, a rising star, from 100,000 in 2005 to a top 8 site today. (Ignore the blip)

What does this overly long set of Alexa graphs mean? It means that what we've all suspected is true. Old media brands have not capitalized on the early success and traffic brought their way in the fledgling days of the Web. As their traffic has stagnated, and in many cases dropped significantly, more agile, interactive, forms of media have risen up to take their place. While there's still a need for investigative journalism and on the spot reporting, still the realm of the mainstream media, Web aficionados are all too happy to look elsewhere, for news, for entertainment, and for engagement.