Last October, ABC News and Yahoo announced their content partnership, marrying ABC News’ editorial clout with Yahoo’s expansive network in the hope of creating an “unrivaled ability to reach across the Web.” If comScore numbers are any indicator, they’ve done just that. Maybe.
The numbers for the new partnership are anything but straightforward at first or even on second glance and perhaps suggest some gamesmanship geared toward demonstrating a larger audience to advertisers. In fact, ABCNews.com’s unique user numbers have hardly budged since the merger (between 19 million and 22.9 million), surprising given the monster promotional platform Yahoo provides (consider the immediate audience jump AOL provided HuffingtonPost).
However, as part of the partnership, the two companies rolled out a new property, the confusingly titled, GoodMorningAmerica.com on Yahoo, which reached a hefty 25.8 million uniques in March. With that site factored in, ABC News finds itself able to make bold claims about its digital prowess; uniques are up 170 percent since the fall, and Yahoo-ABC News have proclaimed dominance as the No. 1 online news source.
Confused yet? You’re not alone. Even an ABC News told Adweek that it has been a struggle to demonstrate clearly via spreadsheets how the numbers roll up into their accurate total. While comScore’s traffic numbers don’t lie, it’s a fair question as to whether the partnership has resulted in real, quantifiable audience growth for both parties—or simply a reclassification designed explicitly to catch the eyes of buyers.
** Update: An ABC rep said in a statement, "All of ABC News Digital – including ABCNews.com, Goodmorningamerica.com and our mobile properties—has grown tremendously as a result of this successful partnership. Since September 2011, ABC News Digital monthly page views have grown on average 115 percent and unique users are up 135 percent. ABCNews.com’s unique users have also grown 10 percent since the partnership with Yahoo and that is after moving Good Morning America content to goodmorningamerica.com. Overall, ABC News and Yahoo have worked together to increase traffic as well as launch premiere editorial content including six original digital series, partnered for coverage of major news events including the presidential debates and given users access to top interviews with newsmakers from President Assad to President Obama to Mark Zuckerberg."