’s Traffic Woes About Distribution, Not Content


Why doesn’t BusinessWeek do better online? At 24/7 Wall St, Doug McIntyre analyses comScore data that ranks 21st among financial websites, and indicates that the site’s monthly pageviews have plummeted from 27 million in August 2006 to 11 million last month. McIntyre suggests that BusinessWeek’s problem is that it doesn’t have enough fresh content, doesn’t do enough with video, and has lousy design and navigation.

None of this rings true. (Disclosure: I worked at Forbes for 10 years, the last two at, and talk to plenty of folks there and at BusinessWeek.)  I don’t have access to internal traffic numbers, but the comScore numbers seem way off — Nielsen, for instance, credits BusinessWeek with 2.8 million uniques in August, while comScore gives BusinessWeek just 1.9 million. And the 64 million page views that comScore credits with is way, way, low.

More importantly, no matter what BusinessWeek’s traffic really is, the reason it lags the big players isn’t because of content or design. It’s distribution. Forbes draws a huge percentage of its traffic via links from Yahoo, Microsoft’s (MSFT) MSN, and Time Warner’s (TWX) AOL; Fortune and the rest of the Time Warner business pubs benefit from some of those links, plus promiment placement on Until BusinessWeek can get access to that kind of help from portals or other high-traffic sites, it’s always going to lag.

UPDATE: Editor John A Byrne responds.