Gawker Media and the Value of ‘Branded Traffic’

Perhaps in light of recent debate over what content and readership leads to a successful ad-based Web site, Gawker’s explanation of a metric that shows its value to readers, published nearly a month ago on the blog’s narrowly read “Advertising” vertical, has been making the rounds on Twitter today. This morning, we’ve seen Gawker publisher Nick Denton, Reuters blogger Felix Salmon and GroundReport CEO Rachel Sterne all point to the article.

Gawker’s “branded traffic” metric — the number of times someone types a Gawker Web address into their browser’s url bar, plus the number of direct searches for a Gawker brand name — reflects readers’ desire to read content from Gawker specifically. Says Gawker’s Erin Pettigrew:

In 2009, a total of 360 million visits to Gawker Media properties originated with branded traffic (typing in an address bar or using the keyword ‘gawker’ in a search form). That means readers asked for us by name nearly 1 million times per day last year.

Pettigrew also observes that “branded traffic visitors” spent more time at Gawker sites and read more pages than other readers.

The post also indicates that Gawker is not satisfied with mere traffic as a measure of a site’s success:

As reach no longer differentiates major digital properties, we’re examining new traffic metrics that frame a richer understanding of the visitor segments that comprise these large web populations. Branded traffic is one such measure, illuminating a publisher’s true following.