Local web rankings: Let’s try this again

An obvious flaw has dogged my attempt to rank local media sites by local viewership: the omission of KFAN, the unarguably popular sports station.

After working with metrics provider Experian Hitwise and KFAN’s parent Clear Channel Communications, I think we’ve solved the issue, which involved web-address configurations. A corrected November chart is below.

Given the fits and starts, I’m beginning to understand why the software world has “beta” versions. This revision doesn’t change anyone’s actual percentages much, but does add KFAN and KDWB to list.

Anyway, here’s the revised data:


Again, the ranker uses visits, not page views. It only measures traffic from the Minneapolis-St. Paul designated market area, or DMA. It doesn’t measure other valuable factors such as time users spend on a site, repeat visits, ad clicks, or traffic to a site’s Facebook page.

The chart relies on data that Experian Hitwise buys directly from Internet service providers such as Comcast. Since individual sites use different providers and technologies to measure themselves, this is an attempt to rank them using a consistent (and hopefully reliable) metric.

The general hierarchy makes logical sense: the biggest newspaper on top, TV stations below that, then radio, with an online-only (MinnPost) sprinkled in.

On a more granular level, the “visits” metric hurts a station such as KFAN, where sports junkies rack up an amazing number of page views.

For example, in September, KFAN’s internal numbers showed 238,000 unique visitors viewing 10.1 million pages. In November, according to Google Analytics, MinnPost had more uniques (270,000) but didn’t crack 1 million page views (936,000).

Likewise, the ranker penalizes sites such as City Pages, which generates a lot of out-of-town traffic.

Quantcast, another metrics service, directly measures a handful of local sites. They peg CP traffic at about 700,000 November visitors. (This is total visits, not the “unique visitors” metric KFAN used.) About 41 percent of traffic comes from the Twin Cities DMA.

Quantcast puts MinnPost at 400,000 November visitors. However, they report 63 percent of our traffic is from the Twin Cities DMA. That’s a rough indication that CP’s and MinnPost’s local visitor counts could be close, as the Hitwise data indicates.

As I’ve noted before, no single metric is perfect — MinnPost prefers repeat visitors. And obviously, I’ve found some poisoned fruit trying for apples-to-apples. But the chart is getting better: for example, the Clear Channel stations (KFAN, KDWB, K102) are in the same order as Clear Channel’s internal metrics.

The feedback has helped improve things; keep it coming.

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