Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz on the Future of Digital Media
As I have shared previously, our goal at Wetpaint is to be the leader in building media properties on the social Web. That’s because I am seeing the web’s nature fundamentally change to become fully social.
It’s not just theory – it’s data.
As I shared recently at AllThingsD.com, the social Web is capturing a dramatically increasing share of users’ attention – with internet users collectively increasing the amount of time they spend per month on Facebook by 69% over a one-year period – while usage for the entire rest of the Web, excluding Facebook, shrank by 9% over the same period.
Social is the most strategic medium for our industry. And yet we haven’t established how to track our collective progress.
So, I’d like to introduce to you the first industry effort to do so. I’ve released it this week, so that we can all compare ourselves with other top publishers and see our individual and collective progress.
Below you’ll find the “Media Industry Social Leaderboard”, a scoreboard and chart that was developed by tabulating the top 50 media publishers, based on monthly unique visitors, and then determining which were best at generating traffic from Facebook and Twitter. Of course, I’ve included Wetpaint Entertainment on the list because we are so committed to social that we are going to make our progress public. (And it doesn’t hurt that we are already significantly better at reaching audiences on these two key social platforms than many major media brands such as The New York Times, The Huffington Post, CNN, Fox News, TMZ and others. My mother should finally be proud!)
This Month’s Findings
This month, we found that MTV’s website leads the pack with 14.3% of its traffic from Facebook and Twitter, indicating the shareability of their content (especially video, which is inherently more viral), and the heavily socialized audience they serve – not to mention their great execution. In fact, MTV beat average performance by a factor of two, and were one of only four out of the top 50 that were in the double digits. Sadly, over half of the Web’s top 50 had less than 4% of their traffic from social, making them menial performers on the medium.
Social Success Could Triple Your Audience’s Value
Lest you think that MTV’s 14.3% is anything to sneeze at, we dug a bit deeper to look at the true value of social. Beyond the boost to audience attraction, we also looked at audience retention. Measuring the visit frequency to each of the publishers (excluding the portals), we found a striking correlation to their sociability. The performers above median in social saw an average of more than five times as many “addicts” (visitors who come 30+ times per month) as a proportion of their audience, according to data from Quantcast, compared to those below the median; and they saw a corresponding reduction in their “passers-by” (visitors who come only once) by 16 percentage points. These patterns map overall into more than three times the visit frequency per audience member overall for these top performers. That’s three times the value per unique.
A Leading Indicator of Long-Term Success
One thing is clear from the growth trends of the social web: Those publishers that figure out how to capture and maintain a leadership position in social will win over the next decade. For Wetpaint, it’s a critical strategy for us to be a leader among the media industry. Which would make my mother very proud.
Speaking of which, in this debut month, my company Wetpaint came in #4, bested only by MTV, People, and ESPN. Not bad for a debut… we’ll be #1 within six months.
For those interested, detailed rankings of all Top 50 are included below.
|Rank||Name of Publisher (Owner)||URL||Monthly Uniques||% from Social|
|8||Major League Baseball||mlb.com||15,552,415||7.9%|
|12||IGN (News Corp)||ign.com||10,112,530||6.1%|
|15||FOX News (News Corp)||foxnews.com||26,900,038||5.0%|
|18||Nickelodeon (MTV Networks)||nick.com||10,716,354||4.6%|
|19||The New York Times||nytimes.com||33,034,269||4.4%|
|24||Cartoon Network (Turner)||cartoonnetwork.com||10,794,764||4.2%|
|25||The Washington Post||washingtonpost.com||17,818,260||4.1%|
|26||New York Daily News||nydailynews.com||9,931,052||3.9%|
|29||Food Networks (Scripps)||foodnetwork.com||14,324,933||3.5%|
|30||Allrecipes (Readers Digest)||allrecipes.com||17,986,031||3.4%|
|31||The Huffington Post||huffingtonpost.com||36,701,275||3.3%|
|32||TODAY / MSN (NBC/Microsoft)||today.com||23,323,684||3.3%|
|33||Los Angeles Times (Tribune)||latimes.com||18,618,265||3.2%|
|35||The Wall Street Journal||wsj.com||16,643,499||2.5%|
|38||USA Today / Gannett||usatoday.com||16,979,964||2.2%|
|41||CNET (CBS Interactive)||cnet.com||27,602,379||2.1%|
|42||Sports Illustrated (Time Inc.)||si.com||9,304,012||2.1%|
|43||LIVESTRONG / (Demand Media)||livestrong.com||9,650,128||2.0%|
|44||MSNBC Digital Network||msnbc.com||44,198,985||1.9%|
|45||About.com / NY Times||about.com||36,978,618||1.4%|
|48||eHow (Demand Media)||ehow.com||48,624,976||1.0%|
Source: Wetpaint.com analysis, comScore, Compete.com.