Is social media killing the web (as we’ve known it)?

Google Trends graph showing traffic drop to major Australian news sites

If Google Trends’ statistics are to be trusted, it looks like there’s been a significant decline in traffic to websites over the last year — not just news, but everywhere. Except social network sites.

Following a blog post by Nicholas Moerman, a planning intern with Proximity in London, I checked out the figures for Australia sites. It does indeed look like there’s been a significant drop in daily unique visitors — which is what Google Trends measures, rather than the more common monthly uniques.

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I’ve written more, and provided more graphs, in a piece for Crikey today, Is social media killing the web as we know it?

Oh, and I was also in Crikey yesterday, Baffled by Murdersoft? Making sense of Murdoch and Microsoft, where I look at some of the numbers behind the rumoured deal between News Corporation and Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

4 Replies to “Is social media killing the web (as we’ve known it)?”

  1. Hmmm… There’s a fair chance I’ve made a goose of myself here. People with access to detailed Nielsen NetRatings data have been showing me daily unique browser figures that are very different.

    I did ask to get in touch with someone from Google Trends, but it’s now Thanksgiving weekend in the US and I don’t expect a prompt response.

  2. OK, I’m starting to look very goose-like. Two key pieces of evidence overnight…

    • Nielsen daily unique browser data shows all of the Australian news sites increasing traffic over the last year. For example, grew from 250,829 average daily unique browsers (UBs) in July 2008 to 346,367 in October 2009, a 38% increase. Not the roughly 50% drop shown here.
    • The forums area of Google Trends is rather quiet. There were only three questions or comments posted for the whole of September, none of which received a reply, and nothing since. I can’t see that anyone from Google has responded to anything for months and months — I gave up looking back any further. Others have noted that Google Trends data differs wildly from Google’s own Analytics product — usually complaining that it shows significantly less traffic.

    Google Trends is a Google Labs product, i.e. an experiment, I’m starting to think that it’s been abandoned and we’re just seeing a slow degradation due to lack of maintenance.

    I am now more interested that ever to see Google’s response. And at the same time I don’t want to see it, because I think it will confirm my theory and confirm my goosehood.

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