Friday, April 22, 2011

You Want 'Real' Data? You Got It

I never expected, when I wrote this small post challenging one by-the-way assertion of The Express Tribune's publisher about ET's online presence vis a vis that of its far more established rival newspaper, Dawn, that it would lead to an all-out flame war in the comments section.

Those jumping to ET's defence began first with trying to discredit our data, interpretation and our web-savvy, followed it up with spin about what was really meant by asserting that ET was "neck in neck" [sic] online with Dawn (hint: it can mean nothing other than readership especially when you're talking about circulations), and ended up by accusing us of carrying out some sort of campaign against ET. I was hugely tempted not to further indulge such grandiose notions of self-importance and (supposed) victimization, not to mention the fact that the comparative online reach of Pakistan's English print media is not an immensely critical issue in my opinion in the larger scheme of things or even as far as the Pakistani media is concerned.

But the reason for a new post on the same topic is because, for one, we promised an independent and thorough analysis to our readers and because some of our friends have gone to great lengths to compile the data for us. More importantly, there is a principle at stake here, namely that of our credibility. We need to set the record straight about some of the wild assertions made in the comments of the last post.

So, without further ado, we present to you a Comparison of the Top English Language News Websites in Pakistan, conducted by our friends at Creative Chaos. (In the interests of full disclosure, it should be pointed out that Creative Chaos is a technology company operating since 2000, was responsible for the pre-launch design and development of The Express Tribune's website, and has also worked with Dawn five years ago to develop their online classifieds (the site was later shut down, ostensibly because management felt it was driving traffic away from the print edition). In addition, the company's CEO, Shakir Husain, is also a columnist for The News and occasionally writes for the Dawn Group's advertising and marketing-related publication Aurora.)

The comparisons of, and were done using four different internationally renowned website analysis tools, i.e. Compete, WebsiteTrafficSpy, Alexa, and doubleclick ad planner by Google, all of which estimate the web traffic of sites based on numerous data streams and their own analytical algorithms. In addition, social media (Facebook, Twitter) influence of these sites was also separately analysed using Klout which basically calculates its rankings using criteria such as number of retweets, quality of tweets etc. Let us go through them one by one.


1. Compete
According to its website, Compete:

"Provides free information for every site on the Internet including site traffic history and competitive analytics; a list of available promotional codes across thousands of online retailers; and site-specific trust scores based on up-to-the-minute data from Compete and third party security services."

This is the data Compete generated:

Click to Enlarge

As you may see, Dawn has a substantial lead over both ET and The News. However, ET and The News can certainly be considered "neck and neck" so far with ET on the up and The News remaining more or less steady.

2. WebsiteTrafficSpy

Though there is no explanation on the WebsiteTrafficSpy website about its methodology of traffic analysis, Creative Chaos believes it aggregates different sources such as Alexa to provide a comprehensive result.

This is the data WebsiteTrafficSpy generated:

Click to Enlarge

According to WebsiteTrafficSpy's estimates, Dawn has 1.96million monthly users, putting it 685,000 ahead of ET which has almost 1.28million monthly users. The News meanwhile, with an estimated 0.93million users is about 350,000 monthly users behind ET. It also puts Dawn's pageviews at approximately 275,000 per day as opposed to ET's 125,000 per day and The News' 92,000 per day. Finally, it ranks Dawn's website at 3,927 worldwide while ET's is ranked at 8,151 and The News' at 11,503.

3. Alexa

According to its website:

"Alexa is continually crawling all publicly-available websites to create a series of snapshots of the web. We use the data we collect to create features and services: 
Site Info: Traffic Ranks, search analytics, demographics, and more
Related Links: Sites that are similar or relevant to the one you are currently viewing
Alexa has been crawling the web since early 1996, and we have constantly increased the amount of information that we gather. We are currently gathering approximately 1.6 terabytes (1600 gigabytes) of web content per day. After each snapshot of the web (which take approximately two months to complete), Alexa has gathered 4.5 billion pages from over 16 million sites."

The overall picture generated by Alexa is as follows:

Click to Enlarge

Note that, as opposed to the vociferous pointations from some commenters in the last post that ET's ranking was only 4 or 6 places behind Dawn according to Alexa, the 'within Pakistan' ranking differs by 13 places. However, in the overall scheme of things (since sites are accessed not just from within the country) Dawn's website is ranked by Alexa at 3,914 while ET's website is ranked at 8,181, a whopping 4,267 places behind. The News, meanwhile is far behind in terms of both rankings. (These rankings are, incidentally, pretty much the same as on WebsiteTrafficSpy.)

In case, you're interested, Alexa also provides snapshots of different parameters that can be looked at. We've included three of the ones most pertinent to the discussion at hand:

In terms of daily traffic ranking:

Red=Dawn, Blue=The News, Green=ET (Click to Enlarge)

In terms of daily reach:

Red=Dawn, Blue=The News, Green=ET (Click to Enlarge)

In terms of daily page views:

Red=Dawn, Blue=The News, Green=ET (Click to Enlarge)

4. doubleclick ad planner by Google

This is how doubleclick ad planner explains itself on its website:

"Refine your online advertising with DoubleClick Ad Planner, a free media planning tool that can help you:
Identify websites your target customers are likely to visitDefine audiences by demographics and interests.
Search for websites relevant to your target audience.
Access unique users, page views, and other data for millions of websites from over 40 countries.
Easily build media plans for yourself or your clientsCreate lists of websites where you'd like to advertise.
Generate aggregated website statistics for your media plan."

The data generated separately for all three sites is as follows:

Dawn's traffic stats: Click to Enlarge

ET's traffic stats: Click to Enlarge

The News' traffic stats: Click to Enlarge

This tool once again puts Dawn far ahead of both others with almost 80,000 daily unique visitors. However, according to doubleclick ad planner by Google, The News with some 36,000 daily unique visitors actually edges out ET with about 28,000. Interestingly, The News also has people spending the most time on their site, an average of 18:20 minutes as opposed to Dawn's 7:40 and ET's 6:20. Generally, that might be considered a good thing. However something tells me that's probably simply because that's how long it takes The News' online readers to figure out how to get to the story they really want in the clutter that is that site.


As you can confirm from all the tools used, our original assertions using Google Trends for Websites as a tool were pretty much on the mark. They are not contradicted by a single other tool.


While we did not touch upon social media in our earlier post, since some commenters brought it up, here's a brief analysis.

Social media usage is the one place where ET has a very strong presence and ET seems to use social media well with some of its articles shared around on Facebook by the thousands. Not that it means anything in substantive terms, but Dawn has 37,000 'fans' on Facebook, followed by ET which has about 23,000. The News is almost dormant on Facebook with only 8,000 'fans'.

On Twitter, however, ET really comes into its own, with the widest reach and the largest number of users. As per Creative Chaos' analysis:

"ET's use of Twitter is by far the most aggressive. Not only do they share all links, their writers do the same as well. Very recently, Dawn has started to share its links online whereas The News remains dormant."

5. Klout

As per its website:

"The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.
True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engage audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.
We believe that influence is the ability to drive people to action -- "action" might be defined as a reply, a retweet, a comment, or a click. We perform significant testing to ensure that the average click-through rate on links shared is highly correlated with a person's Klout Score. The 25+ variables used to generate scores for each of these categories are normalized across the whole data set and run through our analytics engine. After the first pass of analytics, we apply a specific weight to each data point. We then run the factors through our machine-learning analysis and calculate the final Klout Score. The final Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people."

The following data was generated by Klout for all three:

Dawn: Klout score 59 (Click to Enlarge)

ET: Klout score 67 (Click to Enlarge)

The News: Klout score 58 (Click to Enlarge)

What this shows is that ET and its writers are, by far, using social media in the best way to engage audiences. How far that goes in driving traffic towards their website remains to be seen but certainly they have the right idea about digital audiences.

Incidentally, just for fun, we also checked out our own cache on social media using basically only our Twitter presence (Klout did not ask us for our Facebook account details). Here is the result for @cpyala, which as you can see is "neck and neck" in many respects with ET. Make of it what you will.

@cpyala: Klout score 64 (Click to Enlarge)

At the very least, I hope this exhaustive exposition will put to rest the sniping about us having used the "wrong tools" to show ET up and the wild assertions based more on knee-jerk reactions than any real understanding of anything. As we said last time, ET has considerable achievements to its name in its first year. If only its supporters would focus on the genuine ones rather than getting stroppy when imagined ones are called out.

Finally a big thank you to the folks at Creative Chaos for all their hard work and cooperation.


Anonymous said...

war of egos between ET and CP.

So, ET what's next from you guys?

Jahanzaib Haque said...

I was afraid youd do the Cafe I have had to hire a totally impartial analyst of my own...


Anonymous said...

pyala the great !!

Xero said...

SERIOUSLY EVERY ONE? SERIOUSLY? Just because of "neck in neck".
@PYALAS: I had been waiting eagerly for a new post for days, and this was what you had been working on? :/ What a waste of time! I mean if you did not have anything good to blog about you could have taken up knitting and posted pictures of the sweaters you made, which would have been much better.
Oh and I did not read this post… maybe you should check the readership of this one againset others at your blog, not for blogging but as self education.

ps Don’t do that again pls.

Farrukh Ejaz said...

Every new kid on the block thinks that his flashy new clothes and refreshing new looks are all that we need. Dawn is far ahead with respect to quality of content.

And I agree with Anonymous 10:28, CP blog about something else.

a j said...

i'm at dawn and although obviously tribune's necky claim was rather outrageous, i think it should have been treated with little or no reaction. seriously loves, who cares?

Anonymous said...

What kind of experts are these Creative Chaos guys man...using Alexa! Don't you know what the problem with Alexa is? It can so easily be manipulated and spammed. Its way way off and not a cohesive tool for measuring success on the web. Seriously, I can't believe that the so-called "experts" here still use Alexa. Actually its a good way to fool know by showing them how much their Alexa ranking has some research on why Alexa sucks as a tool for measuring success on the web!

Anonymous said...

will the et trolls simply stop crying? everything has been proven so go back to your cafes and coffee shops, big cars an fake english accent, and the grammarian stories you all are fond of.

Anonymous said...

CP, I am really bored of this! write on something else. Web site stats are a tricky thing and you will eventually find what you are looking for. But its all guess work because to generate exact figures for any site, the site has to allow analytics to crawl it. JH, you are right when you say 'Damn, why are analytics so hard!' So pls. continue with Alexa's finding, it indeed is the best site for generating stats.

TLW said...

My first reaction would've been typing tl;dr, but reading the last two comments, I would say, no, I think I'm glad I gave that report a read. First off, it's good to know that Dawn news is in the 3,500range of global websites. It makes me proud as a Pakistani. Now that I've gotten the jingo out of the way, I want to add, good job and a round of applause for Creative Chaos for doing this research for you.

It's good to have data to back up whatever people would like to say or hear about a website. And I had fun playing around with Klout

I also am happy that Cafe Pyala have bought up the very bad, security ridden interface of The News website. I hope that the trolls from Jang News are reading this and will hire somebody to fix their glitch ridden website.

And yeah, it was fun seeing how angry ETrib supporters got and I do wish the website, the best of luck.

However, it wouldn't be fair to end this without a look at funny search terms that each website carried for its various searches.

For Dawn the only anomaly was "Mexico Killings 2011". Seriously folks, we're not that non-Nato ally. But Ex Trib's fluffyness factor is bolstered by "Islamabad Fashion Week" and "Race Car Deaths". And Jang's strange schizo nature is demonstrated with the oddly commercial "fish oils curb disease" and an obsessive compulsive disorder display of "Raymond Davis".

For an afterhours for snarksters, there's the comments by Alexa on The News and Ex Trib's websites.

That's something else.

Anonymous said...

Good post Pyala! Proud of it. And ET, get a life!

TLW said...

I will come back to my original reaction of tl;dr. Time to move on beyond the Ex Trib's peeps fragile ego Pyalas.

Anonymous said...

First, it was Google Trends which was bothering the Tribune people, and now it is Alexa. Guys, admit it that you are not the best, that your website is not the best or the the most visited, and you are just one year old. Love, Awam

A startled dawn staffer who can't understand what the hell is going on. said...

I think it means a lot to us that ET's website likes to compare itself with To be fair ET does have a good website at least the design. Mistakes, we all make. We would have loved to actually do something together, after all the purpose of being on the web is connecting. But as I mentioned above, dawn is conservative and as a staffer I respect it or I should leave. Thus the reason why I would like to remain anonymous. Somehow the managements of both papers share a lot of mistrust and arrogance between them. I don't know what it is but it feels like a jealousy that runs in the family:)

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I for one had no idea that Dawn was STILL doing well. Perception vs reality and in this case statistics. Good job creative chaos and pyala!

Dost Mohammad said...

@Xero, my thoughts exactly.

Anonymous said...

Rubbish tribune is not at all worthy that CP writes two posts on it. Not worthy at all.

Anonymous said...

@jahanzeb haque - when you "hire" someone to do impartial analysis its anything but impartial. once money is exchanged they're your gun for hire.

Omar R Quraishi said...

Alexa Traffic Rank: 259,716
Pakistan Flag Traffic Rank in PK: 3,081
Sites Linking In: 61

the above is for cafe pyala -- and you consider yourself 'neck and neck' with ET

incidentally, when i posted on your 'Necked' post, the difference in rank between ET and Dawn was 66 and 72 -- it may have changed --

seriously -- i hope you can see through your thinly-veiled bitterness that all the graphs show ET rising while Dawn and The News are more or less stagnant or sometimes dipping -- and that clearly dawn's nearest rival online is ET

oh btw if you get riled even more to do a third post, will look forward to seeing a ranking of which newspaper's site has had the most article likes/shares on Facebook and Twitter -- and so on

if u need assistance type 'George Fulton, 'Fasi Zaka' 'Attaur Rahman'

Asad Shairani said...

Argh - I was expecting a real post this time.

Pekhawaray said...

what the heck, i thought i would get something substantial to read. however, i read only the first three lines. had no energy to read further.

bilalumar said...

The headline of this article =P...HAHA.

YOU WANT REAL DATA?!?! okay then.

Anyway, it was a really boring read. And really, i dont give a shit about the results either. This whole exercise was the dumbest thing CP could ever do.

And CP, stop wasting your time on frivolous things. Make fun of the Tribune's headlines or something. But dont do such petty things.


Anonymous said...

Omar R Quraishi. AKA the "pettiest" Pakistani Editor of them all. Chachu jee, aap thaktay nahin hain?

Anonymous said...

I don think this is a 'petty' post. i think et people came in with all kinds of mud to throw and none of it stuck. and now they are behaving even worse and accusing cafe pyala of having an agenda and being bitter. seriously et trolls, don't jalous. stop competing with cafe pyala and compete with yourselves. as for mr omer qureshi, it really leaves a bad taste in the mouth that an oped editor has such little self respect or self awareness that he lets his mouth run away with him. sad days for pakistani journalism when someone in such a senior position acts like someone with such a chota dimagh.

Anonymous said...

"sad days for pakistani journalism when someone in such a senior position acts like someone with such a chota dimagh."

Or something else chota for that matter. Sorry Pyala, just couldn't resist that.

karachikhatmal said...

Anon 5:19


That said, this is a basic issue i've had as a journalist, and one that's very demoralizing. as we can see by the comments and the fact that you guys did, or were forced to, do two posts on verifying who was top dog, viewership/readership numbers are what determine the bottom line.

however, the highest numbers don't correlate to the 'best' journalism. case in point pakistani talk shows like capital talk and the rest. they require little to no production effort, are no more than extended slanging matches, and even their audiences have very strong feelings against them, and yet the whole nation is captivated by it. so many choots have huge egos and think they're weighty intellectuals because they have insane ratings, while someone busting their ass to produce something worthy gets lost in the hype.

i don't know why its so, but poor quality bullshit seems to attract the greatest numbers in this day and age. and for that reason, despite the great quality of the majority of their op-eds, ET's terrible blogs and city pages would ensure that they become the top dogs numbers wise, which would have little bearing on their actual ability, integrity or journalistic nous.

stuka said...

Dude, You didn't have to do all this work. The Compete data is adequate and more reliable than anything else including Alexa. I am in the online media business as well, and happen to be in Boston where Compete is located. It's the gold standard for third party audits and research.

I should have guessed Omar R Quraishi is involved in ET. He's a nice guy but rather thin skinned - we Indians made him go crazy on Chowk a few years back. :) Good to see him move up in the world, he would remind us time and again about his American education and being the youngest editor on Dawn or some such...

stuka said...

"i hope you can see through your thinly-veiled bitterness that all the graphs show ET rising while Dawn and The News are more or less stagnant or sometimes dipping -- and that clearly dawn's nearest rival online is ET "
Koff koff bullshit koff koff..
Unique Visitors
Monthly Change
Yearly Change

OQ's Old Student said...

Stuka, you have old memories of Qureshi sahab too?

Try being one of his students :-)

Good classes, but still.

OQ sahab, please sir, please. The Tribune is a decent paper, it's only been a year running, the Ex Trib blogs are useful to expose the degree of shallow thinking amongst our English speaking population, but still sir. Take the good compliment that you have a decent social media presence and run with it.

Cafe Pyala, I think it's time to move on.

OQ's Old Student said...

Stuka I vaguely recall you on Chowk. It's become shit now. I used to lurk there a bit, but I found the reactionary Pakistan V. Hindu Nationalist pissing contests generated more heat than light. Plus Chowk's join up process seemed byzantine if you weren't going to write a full 700 piece thing and your bloggish type pieces would be hidden away.

Where have all those jingoistic Indians run off to? Or are they still haunting chowk like ghosts?

OQ's Old Student said...

This id is a fire and foreget id. I ain't ever responding to anything positive or negative on it ever again.

Respond or don't. I'm gone.

Good Bye.

Anonymous said...

sorry, Pyala, but it seems the et crowd has masochistic tendencies. they love to show they are being victimized.

and, huh, is it Mr Quraishi again?

you, Mr Quraish, write: "incidentally, when i posted on your 'Necked' post, the difference in rank between ET and Dawn was 66 and 72 -- it may have changed"

your words tell us that not only the et web is NOT neck and neck with, it has also apparently abandoned the 'chase'. aint i right, sir?

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uzairsdad said...

Sorry but I think this post of yours is a total waste of time. Always wait anxiously for something new from you but this time the wait has yielded nothing. What were you out to prove? That you do a better research job via the net vis-a-vis your readers? All said and done I still think the ET is a great read and extremely reader friendly. That's all that matter to me.

Anonymous said...

Forget everything...ET guys are actually really "PROUD" of their Blogs! Doesn't matter if they're popular or not, like Kalakawa said, so is cheap crap like Capital talk...but ET blogs take the cake and the fact that it is the pride and joy of the "ET Trolls" (I love that term btw, kudos to the one who coined it)is enough to say they lack the editorial vision that their rivals, possess!

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Anonymous said...

Good CP, your endorsement of Shakir Husain means he will use it to get more business from embassies seeking to direct how Pakistani's think by manipulating online resources.

Congrats CP, great way to tout integrity!

Anonymous said...
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XYZ said...

Unbelievable. We leave comments unsupervised for a day and all hell breaks lose. Have had to delete a number of comments because of their irrelevance or defamatory nature. Really sad to see commenters posting personal diatribes that have nothing to do with the content in question or the information presented. Here's a hint folks: running a smear campaign against individuals is no way to refute arguments. It merely shows that you have nothing of substance to say.

Unfortunately, because of this descent into incivility and pointless defamation, we are now closing off the comments to this post.