Saturday, October 14, 2006

CNET dying the death of a million blogs... or is it?

TechCrunch today details a Jeffreys & Company report which "points to a third quarter 50% drop in CNET traffic compared to the same period in 2005, including a whopping 69% drop in traffic at WebShots". In the comments, opinions range from distrust of Mike Arrington's motives, to complete agreement, to skepticism about the Jeffreys numbers (which are not available to the public). The long-term Alexa graph is instructive, though of course flawed. That spike in late 2005 corresponds with their last major relaunch, but since then it's been all downhill. Given that the relaunch was a year and a week ago, those year-on-year Jeffreys numbers sound awfully suspicious, or at least misleading because they most likely use figures from just before that spike. Nevertheless, the dribbling away of traffic has been more pronounced in 2006 that in previous years.

Mike blames CNET's traffic woes with the rise of tech blogs, and while the numbers might be overstated by Jeffreys, that argument sounds credible. I have particular interest in this given that I wrote a blog for CNET's ZDNet Australia site for a while. No one can accuse the CNET people either here in Australia or back in the US of ignoring the blog phenomenon, and ZDNet US has a large stable of blogs which are rarely unrepresented on TechMeme.

The people I feel sorry for are the CNET people in Sydney, some of whom are friends of mine. I can say from personal experience that through no fault of their own, foreign subsidiaries of American companies always catch cold when their parent company sneezes. It appears that while saying that CNET has the flu is a tad premature, they're starting to sound sniffly and it won't be long before the phlegm backs up. And I think I'll end this entry before I get too far into that analogy.


Anonymous Ian said...

Hi Paul.
I don't think the sydney people should be too concerned about what is happening in the US at the moment.

they are such a small fish in a large ocean, and the CNET/ZDNet australian revenue (and operations) is independent of US to a large extent, more specifically ad revenue comes from local sources in australia, not the US ones, so any reduction in the CPM over there will not affect it.

3:19 pm, October 16, 2006  

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