The demise of Gawker Media is very much exaggerated.
According to Nick Denton, traffic is returning to normal after plummeting in February and March due to the redesign.
Page views are roughly where they were at this time in 2010, with unique visitors lagging behind but increasing.
According to Denton, most of the issues came from poor SEO — which has been fixed — rather than users turning on the redesign.
But does traffic really matter?
On some level, yes, of course. Page views and unique visitors are an easy metric complete with pretty graphs and measurable statistics. (Even if the numbers range from Quacast and comScore to Google Analytics and internal measures.) But more to the point, they are relatively harmless and, therefore, almost useless.
Which brings us to revenue, the statistic that actually matters. Denton — and other big web publishers — are businesses. They need to make money. More than they will admit, decisions to redesign are driven by what will generate revenue.
This is true of the Gawker Media as well.
We can pretend the redesign was about page views, highlighting scoops, and quality content — and, to some extent, it was — but the bottom line success or failure is revenue.
The CPM model is dying. Denton knows that; he’s always ahead of the game. He had to find a way to score premium advertising. The new design was the solution.
Felix Salmon addressed the point in a long post in December.
“In the medium term, then, Denton’s ambition is to be able to charge premium rates for delivering large, high-quality, video-based ads to a young and deep-pocketed generation which is becoming increasingly difficult for advertisers to reach,” he wrote on his Reuters blog.
GM’s own advertising page says as much as well: “The new layout will accentuate multiple media formats and our user interface will not only allow for more editorial freedom, but provide new ways to gracefully blend advertising into our publications.”
The more important figure than page views is Denton’s assertion that revenue is up 35 per cent in the first half of the year, impressive both because of the redesign and the departure of sales head Chris Batty. Moreover, the new video and interstitial offerings will be rolling out soon, and those will likely increase revenue further.
In the end, page views are nice but it’s always about the Benjamins.