Seattle P-I: Nielsen Is Wrong, We’re Right

Despite Nielsen reports saying that the online-only Seattle P-I‘s traffic fell 23 percent last month, the parent company of the PI is claiming a 9.6 percent rise in traffic, we’ve learned.

up up and away!
flickr: kevinzhengli

The Post-Intelligencer became one of the largest newspapers to move entirely online when parent company Hearst Corp. shut down the print edition on March 17.

Nielsen Online reports that traffic to the P-I fell 23 percent in March, knocking it off the list of top 30 newspaper websites. 1.4 million unique visitors in March would also have put the organization behind competitor The Seattle Times, which still has a print edition, and which Nielsen reports garnered 2.2 million uniques to its web site.

But a spokesperson for Hearst calls the Nielsen numbers “flawed” and says that its Omniture data reveals an almost 10 percent gain in traffic, up to 4.5 million.

Omniture is known for reporting web traffic stats much more conservatively than other tracking programs—this caused a storm in the blogosphere last fall when blog network B5 Media announced pay reductions in line with their adoption of Omniture as a stats package—so it’s very likely that the P-I’s traffic truly is up year-over-year. How much of that traffic is driven by curiosity about the new site rather than a genuine desire to get news from seattlepi.com remains to be seen.