Contemplating an investment in Demand Media? Got the jitters about the effect Google might have on the stock price? Your concerns might be justified.
Whilst this could well be a false alarm, it will give you at least some idea of why there might be a concern.
For the record, I took all these screenshots today…
Quantcast data is normally highly reliable for Quantified publishers, and I have never seen a drop like this that wasn’t due to a real decrease… or someone accidentally or deliberately leaving the code off a page.
Finding this data on the Quantcast site isn’t as easy as it used to be, so I am not linking to it directly.
Demand Media Group Traffic
These stats certainly look like they were hammered in some way, lets look at individual sites.
Ehow.com is by far Demand Media’s most popular web property, so is possibly the most important indicator.
Those stats suggest that Quantcast code was removed from Ehow.com sometime around July 27th-28th 2010, but they are still showing as a Quantified publisher. That seems normal to me… they are not going to pull stats totally if for some reason a developer slipped up and removed stats by accident.
We should look at Alexa data for Ehow.com
That looks healthy… though Alexa have been known to fudge numbers a little.
But is that all the story?
Lets look at some more sites.
That looks possibly a little drop in traffic around the “MayDay” update but nothing too serious, or just seasonal… websites get less traffic in the Summer… and then there was the World Cup.
Cracked serves a younger demographic, so you would expect the traffic to drop more in the summer.
If anything that looks like some growth during the summer even just looking at US traffic. Very well positioned for the colder seasons. I wouldn’t look on Cracked as a site that depends on search traffic – they have tons of social media & viral traffic due to the nature of the content.
So far all signs are rosey.
This one looks like a traffic hit, or a change in which pages are being measured. If the code was taken off some of the pages it would look just like this too.
Lets look at Alexa for Livestrong.com
That looks relatively healthy though with some seasonal reduction, maybe less promotion or content being produced after July but there is a decline.
Demand Media SEO Risks
Danny covered the SEO risks with Demand Media admirably when the IPO was first announced.
I think one of the biggest risks might be their syndicated content strategy, even though that in some ways gives them some stability on traffic sources.
More On Demand Media
I found this video quite insightful, as you get to learn the internal workings and some of the thoughts leading up to the IPO.
All Things D (the WSJ) have some problems with their video embeds looking really sucky (320×181) as standard to encourage you to click through and try to navigate their site, or maybe just a bug, so I hacked the embed code a little. Permalinks to videos (e.g. the permalink for this one) are all messed up as well which must be great for SEO.
Not a Start Page
I think the important aspect in this isn’t that a major change has happened… I don’t think it has, but that Demand Media don’t really own a “start page” in a similar way to Yahoo, MSN, AOL or Google might be looked at as the first page that an internet user would start their online session with. They don’t have any captive audience.
They also don’t own any real news destinations, though they do provide content to news destinations.
At this time I am not worried about the traffic decline being shown, and part of what I do is help large websites fix major problems… sometimes they listen to me, sometimes they don’t.
This does however highlight a need to either fully hide traffic data, or make it reliable. Demand Media is the first major IPO in recent times I can think of that is so tied to Google both for traffic and income for their long-term income.
In some ways it is the equivalent to Apple being tied to the health of Steve Jobs.
There can be big positive and negative gains almost overnight which may or may not be permanent.