Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Forbes.com claim to be tops in business news questioned by NYT

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 28, 2006

In today's New York Times. 

Forbes.com is number one...

Its own ads proclaim that “more people get their business news from Forbes.com than any other source in the world,” saying that its sites drew about 15 million unique visitors in a single month earlier this year. It was a well-heeled crowd, according to Forbes.com, which says that the average household income of its users is $149,601.

However...

There is also the question, given Forbes.com’s user figures, of where those visitors were going. According to comScore, 45 percent of its February traffic went to ForbesAutos.com, a companion Web site heavy on car reviews and photos. About three-quarters of the ForbesAutos.com traffic came from outside the United States.

Since February, comScore said, Forbes.com’s traffic has tumbled. In July, Forbes Web sites drew 7.3 million unique visitors worldwide, almost a million of whom went to ForbesAutos. That put Forbes.com slightly below Dow Jones (whose online properties include The Wall Street Journal’s Web site and MarketWatch), CNNMoney.com (which includes the sites of Fortune and Business 2.0 magazines) and sites affiliated with Reuters, each of which comScore says had some 7.6 million visitors that month.

Does it matter?

James Spanfeller, chief executive of Forbes.com, is not backing away from the contention that Forbes.com is No. 1 in its field.

“Are we leading the pack?” Mr. Spanfeller said in an interview on Friday. “Yes.”

In fact...

Mr. Spanfeller said comScore’s latest figures clashed with the company’s internally generated data, which still showed about 15 million visitors a month, with ForbesAutos.com accounting for about 2 million of those.

Rubbish...

“Forbes.com is not the biggest,” Vivek Shah, president of digital publishing for Time Inc.’s business and finance network, said in an e-mail message on Friday.

His comment was seconded by L. Gordon Crovitz, publisher of The Journal and executive vice president of Dow Jones, who is responsible for Dow Jones’s consumer brands, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch. Both Mr. Shah and Mr. Crovitz pointed to figures from Nielsen/NetRatings, which they say undercut those from Forbes.com.

Tabloid approach...

Some competitors argue that Forbes.com’s popularity derives in part from racy, provocative or wealth-obsessed lifestyle features that have little to do with traditional business news — examples from this year include “The Hottest Billionaire Heiresses,” “Top Topless Beaches” and “America’s Drunkest Cities.”

It's the little people that suffer ...

Forbes’s Web prowess is a big reason Elevation Partners, a private equity firm that counts Bono of U2 as a managing director, agreed on Aug. 4 to buy a minority stake in Forbes’s publishing business. “Forbes has already won the first round” in the battle for Internet supremacy, an Elevation founder, Roger McNamee, said then.

 

 

Link to At Forbes.com, Lots of Glitter but Maybe Not So Many Visitors - New York Times

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