How much traffic do the Edmonton Journal and iNews880 get from Twitter?

Depending on who you talk to, Twitter is either killing news media or saving it. A recent analysis by Hitwise found that less than 0.2% of people who use Twitter wind up going to news and media sites (thanks to Karen for the link). Their analysis looks at Twitter as a whole though, and I’m not sure how well it accounts for local news sites. I believe very strongly that social media has the greatest impact at the local level (more on this in a future post). Given that, I have long wondered how Twitter has impacted local news media here in Edmonton. Last night, I finally did some analysis. I decided to explore how much traffic the Edmonton Journal and iNews880, Edmonton’s two top tweeting media outlets, received from Twitter last year.

@EdmontonJournal

First up, the Edmonton Journal. They’ve been tweeting news articles since at least January 2009, so I had lots of data to play with. They used tweetburner to shorten links until September when they switched to bit.ly. Using the APIs available from those services, I added up all the click stats for all the links posted by The Journal. Here’s what I found:

Lots of variation, as you can see. Some of that is down to the use of two services, some of it is because of the number of Twitter users. There are probably dozens of other factors too.

For the period January 30 through December 31:

  • A total of 153,968 clicks were recorded on 4737 links.
  • That’s an average of 33 clicks per link, and an average of 15 links per day.
  • According to the stats on the bit.ly links, 95.4% of clicks come from the Edmonton Journal’s hash*.
  • The link with the most clicks (700) was this one, on May 26. It doesn’t work, because annoyingly The Journal doesn’t display old articles for some reason, but it appears it was about Edmonton’s Poet Laureate Roland Pemberton.
  • The day with the most clicks, September 14, doesn’t appear to be special…just lots of clicks that day for some reason (any ideas?).

@iNews880

Next up, iNews880, one of the first local media organizations to join Twitter. They used tinyurl.com until July, when Twitter switched the default to bit.ly, so unfortunately I only have data for the latter half of the year:

For the period July 14 through December 31:

  • A total of 90,500 clicks were recorded on 3811 links.
  • That’s an average of 24 clicks per link, and an average of 22 links per day.
  • According to the stats on the bit.ly links, 93.8% of clicks come from iNews880’s hash*.
  • The link with the most clicks (1933) was this one, on August 2 (that’s the huge spike in the graph above). The link goes to the report on the Big Valley Jamboree stage collapse, and it was popular because it included before and after photos.

Edmonton Journal vs. iNews880

I wanted to do a quick comparison, so I chose the period September 17 through December 31, because both sites used bit.ly for links during that time. Here’s what it looks like:

During that time:

  • The Edmonton Journal posted 2369 links (23 per day) and iNews880 posted 2261 links (22 per day).
  • A total of 79,519 clicks were recorded on Edmonton Journal links (an average of 751 per day or 34 per link).
  • A total of 53,815 clicks were recorded on iNews880 links (an average of 508 per day or 24 per link).

Thoughts

That’s a lot of clicks! Clearly Twitter and other social networking sites (where most shortlinks are posted) are having an impact. But how much? According to the latest report by the Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank), weekly online readership at EdmontonJournal.com increased by 35% last year to 115,900 from 85,800 in 2008. That’s an increase of 30,100 readers per week. According to the click stats above, The Journal received 3208 clicks per week in 2009. So what does that mean?

Roughly 10.7% of the Edmonton Journal’s online readership increase in 2009 came as a result of posting links to Twitter.

And if I had to guess, I’d say my analysis probably underestimates things. Apparently the NADbank data is based on surveys, so I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it’s probably within acceptable margins of error. I’m also not sure what exactly a “reader” is – a page view, a visit, etc.

Caveats

I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible, but I can’t make any guarantees!

  • All the click stats are current as of last night.
  • I’m suggesting that all the clicks come via Twitter, when that’s probably not entirely true. Links get passed around, displayed on websites, etc. But the shortlinks do originate at Twitter.
  • It’s possible that The Journal or iNews880 posted a link to somewhere other than their own sites, but uncommon. I did remove one link from the iNews880 dataset, because it pointed to an Environment Canada site (it was obvious, lots of total clicks as others have linked there too). For the rest, I’m making the assumption that the links point to the news sites.
  • I don’t know how reliable the stats from bit.ly and tweetburner are. I suspect they are quite a bit different than server logs or Google Analytics metrics.
  • I would assume that both services tweaked the way stats are calculated throughout the year, so 15 clicks on a bit.ly link in May is probably different than 15 clicks on a bit.ly link in December.

* – When you shorten a link using bit.ly, you get a unique hash. If I shorten the same link, I get a different hash. The stats are recorded and made available individually and in aggregate, however.

January 2010 Headlines: Edmonton Journal vs. Edmonton Sun

I think it’s fair to say that Edmonton’s two major dailies have strong stereotypes attached to them. The Edmonton Journal, as the capital region’s newspaper of record, is generally considered reliable, encompassing, and important, with an emphasis on politics and current events. The Edmonton Sun, which has just less than half of the Journal’s weekly circulation (according to data from 2008), is generally considered a bit more tabloid-like, with an emphasis on sports and special sections. But I’m not happy with stereotypes – I like data!

There is obviously much more to a newspaper than its headlines, but I figured that was a good starting point for comparison. Using data extracted from Twitter (which means it may be incomplete) I compared headlines from The Journal and The Sun for January 2010. I counted 662 headlines for The Journal (in blue) and 589 headlines for The Sun (in red).

 

The most frequently used words in The Journal’s headlines were: Edmonton, Alberta, new, fire, man, woman, Oilers, Calgary, gallery, and police.

The most frequently used words in The Sun’s headlines were: Haiti, Canada, city, man, Canadian, Edmonton, Alberta, Hatian, new, and quake.

Here’s a quick comparison of the average length, average number of words, and average Automated Readability Index (ARI) for each headline:

I’m not sure that calculating the ARI for a headline is valid, but calculating it for the collection of headlines isn’t valid either (because they aren’t equivalent to sentences). I did look at the collection though – The Journal used 865 complex words, whereas The Sun used 552 (a complex word is three syllables or more, as determined using this online tool).

I don’t know what the takeaway is here, but I thought it was interesting enough to share. I’ll probably revisit this again in the future, with additional news sources, and probably some sentiment analysis as well. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!

EEDC’s 2010 Economic Outlook Luncheon

Today I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Economic Outlook Luncheon, hosted by Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) at the Shaw Conference Centre. More than 700 people attended. In addition to lunch and networking, the event featured an expert panel offering insight into the year ahead. The panelists included:

  • Hon. Iris Evans, Minister of Finance & Enterprise, Government of Alberta
  • Leo de Bever, CEO, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo)
  • John Hokanson, retired entrepreneur
  • Dave Mowat, CEO, ATB Financial
  • Dr. Mike Percy, Dean of the School of Business, University of Alberta

Lesley MacDonald moderated, and EEDC President & CEO Ron Gilbertson gave the opening and closing remarks. Each panelist had an opportunity to make some remarks, and then members of the audience could ask questions. I live tweeted the event – here are some of the highlights:

  • Opening remarks from EEDC’s Ron Gilbertson: Canada’s economy is above average, Alberta and Edmonton average in Canada. #yeg
  • Iris Evans: over $1 billion, that’s the amount of aerospace and defence projects in #Alberta. #yeg #yyc
  • Leo de Bever: to have financial sustainability in #Alberta going forward, we need productivity growth.
  • John Hokanson says the livestock industry in #Alberta is shrinking at an alarming rate, affecting the entire agriculture industry.
  • John Hokanson says #Alberta and #yeg government spending are on unsustainable trajectories.
  • Dr. Mike Percy says it’s capital investment, particularly oilsands, that will lead #Alberta out of the recession, not consumers. #yeg
  • Dr. Mike Percy says a climate change policy in Canada not integrated with the US would be "insane at best". #yeg
  • Dr. Mike Percy says looking ahead, expect growth of about 2% in #Alberta, and it’ll be more robust north of Red Deer. #yeg
  • John Hokanson says young ppl entering the #Alberta workforce recently have no idea what goes into a day’s work. #yeg
  • Iris Evans says the new Alberta Art Gallery will be a very positive thing for #yeg and we need to recognize that.
  • Ron Gilbertson: #Alberta is one of the highest wage regions in North America. To compete, we need increased productivity. #yeg

I enjoyed economics enough during my time at the University of Alberta to minor it the subject, but I admit I felt quite rusty listening to the comments today. Especially Dr. Percy’s – he spoke with such confidence, knowledge, and ease. As you can imagine, I found John Hokanson’s dig at youth rather annoying. And I had no idea that Alberta’s aerospace industry was a billion dollar business. A quick Google search turned up this article (PDF):

The aviation and aerospace industry is comprised of firms that make aircraft and aircraft parts, perform aircraft maintenance, offer aircraft-related services and invent new technologies. The industry generates $1.3 billion in annual revenue, is home to 5,000 jobs exclusive of the airlines and airports, and exports 40 per cent of its products and services.

Fascinating! Apparently Canada’s aviation and aerospace industry is the fourth largest in the world, generating more than $22 billion in annual revenue.

EEDC's 2010 Economic OutlookEEDC's 2010 Economic Outlook

I thought the panelists sounded relatively optimistic, and though there are definitely challenges ahead, Edmonton and Alberta seem well-positioned to emerge from the recession to start experiencing growth once more.

One other thing I wanted to mention was the Edmonton Journal advertisement that everyone received. It was a small cardboard box advertising that the Journal is “Mobile Ready!” on both the iPhone and BlackBerry. Inside was a card with instructions on adding a shortcut for a variety of devices, as well as a small “EJ” screen cleaner. I think pushing mobile right now is a smart move, and I thought the advertisement was very well done.

Thanks to Jenifer Christenson for inviting me out today!