Celebs drive a lot of traffic

The latest report from web executive editor Meredith Artley shows the most important traffic drivers to the Times website are celebrity news and Hollywood. Nothing beats the page view-inflating efficiency of slide shows about celebs. Politics blog Top of the Ticket, though, had the paper's best month ever for a blog. In the stats and highlights that follow, there's no presence at all of the Times' big foreign operation — this won't be lost on Sam Zell, or in the bureaus overseas. Artley's message for January:

Colleagues: We had 94 million page views in January. That’s up 13% from January 2007, and it oh-so-nicely beats the goal of 87 million we had set for ourselves.

That January number is bigger that what you usually see in these notes for two reasons:
1. In 2008 we are including The Envelope, CalendarLive and The Guide in the overall number (as they should have been all along).
2. We had an outstanding month. Even without the sections above included, this would be one of the highest traffic months on record.

A reminder that these numbers come from Omniture, the software we use to slice and dice our internal traffic. We are getting better information these days about how people use our site, thanks to the Business Intelligence team, and we’ll be adding more fun traffic facts to the Newsroom 2.0 blog.

“Unique users” is a commonly used Web metric you may have heard about. Loosely, it signifies the number of people who visited the site. In January, we had 12.2 million unique users, according to Omniture. That number is growing, too.

What resonated with readers to give us this strong start to the year? Entertainment and Politics coverage saw big leaps in traffic, with lots of growth also in Travel, Autos and Home & Garden.

What a month for Richard Rushfield and the entertainment team. They continue to get good feedback on the new design. The Hollywood A-Z pages are getting good readership. Sundance coverage was a print-Web success, with updates, live blogging, video and great photos. The Envelope’s SAG and Golden Globes coverage got great numbers. Entertainment has more blogs than any other section on the top 10 list for the month, and in January they launched David Sarno’s Web Scout blog. The coverage of Heath Ledger’s death was well read, and the same goes for Britney Spears coverage, including an exclusive story from Andrew Blankstein at 1:30 in the morning that tops the most-viewed articles list for January. All of this added up to an all-time record month for the entertainment section.

Top stories, videos and blogs for the month follow, plus other stats.

In other news about records, the Top of the Ticket blog is unstoppable ­ it received nearly 1.4 million page views in January. That’s the highest ever for a blog. The blog was among the most viewed items on the entire site for January and also during our Super Tuesday coverage. Speaking of which, we had other nice elements to our election coverage, including a live, interactive map showing state results county by county.

We had great traffic on Feb. 4 and 5 ­ we’re off to strong start this month and on track to beat our goal of 89 million page views. We’ll see if we can crack 100 million. If so, the Champagne California sparkling wine corks will fly!

Coming soon:

The launch of the L.A. Now blog with Veronique de Turenne and the Metro staff, and more improvements to the local news section. More A-Z pages in sections like Business, Politics, Autos, Real Estate and Sports. A video section and a new video player on the article pages. E-mail newsletters for Politics, Sports, Business and Health. A better site search, thanks to the tech team and Google.

On to the lists….

Most viewed stories in January

1. Spears hospitalized for mental health – By Andrew Blankstein

2. Ritter’s family says he didn’t have to die – By Charles Ornstein

3. Why people believe weird things about money – Op-Ed by Michael Shermer

4. Cause célèbre: Ready to give Barack the part – By Tina Daunt

5. Actor Heath Ledger found dead – By Matea Gold and Paul Lieberman

6. A scrapbook career in shreds – By Erika Hayasaki

7. Quaids recall twins’ drug overdose – By Charles Ornstein

8. How we cashed in before the housing crash – By Peter Y. Hong

9. Clinton plays gaming card against Obama – By Peter Wallsten and Peter Nicholas

10. Super Tuesday looks close for Democrats ­– By Janet Hook


Six month traffic trends:

January: 4,468,208 page views (new record!)

December: 3,475,581 PVs

November: 2,992,827 PVs

October: 3,008,179 PVs

September: 2,331,484 PVs

August: 2,178,616 PVs

Most viewed blogs for January

1. Top of the Ticket – 1,381,734 PVs (new record!)

2. Lakers – 519,232 PVs (up from 423,464 in December)

3. Envelope: Dish Rag – 299,207 PVs (up from 162,877 in December)

4. Envelope: Gold Derby

5. Homicide Report

6. Show Tracker

7. Envelope: Extended Play

8. Travel/Daily Deal

9. Vegas/Movable Buffet

10. L.A. Land

Most viewed videos

Auto saw the biggest overall gain – Dan Neil and Jeff Amlotte did many short, sassy, quick-fire videos from the Detroit Auto Show. None of the made the top ten on their own, but together they got a lot of viewership.

1. Actor Heath Ledger dies - AP

2. Fire Breaks Out at Monte Carlo - KTLA

3. Video excerpts from Matthew Fleuret alleged police beating - Video provided to LAT

4. Storms roll through SoCal - AP

5. Magazine: An absolute doll - LAT

6. Hillary near tears - 7,696 - AP

7. Brad Renfro found dead in Los Angeles- KTLA

8. Barack Obama's Iowa victory speech - CNN

9. Britney Hospitalized - KTLA

10. Britney Spears Taken To Hospital - KTLA

Most viewed slide shows

1. Entertainment: Celebrity shots

2. Entertainment: Celebrity and Sports Collide in L.A.

3. Entertainment: Posthumous productions

4. Entertainment: New faces in old spaces

5. Home & Garden: Santa Monica Chic

6. Entertainment: Britney’s ups and downs

7. Home & Garden: Country Finery

8. Entertainment: Heath Ledger | 1979-2008

9. Travel: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

10. Obituaries: Suzanne Pleshette | 1937-2008

And here is a bonus, one-big-bucket list – the top 20 pages viewed on the entire site for January:

1. Homepage – 21,844,262

2. – 3,654,356

3. Sports section front – 2,089,813

4. CareerBuilder – 1,554,064

5. Top of the Ticket blog – 1,381,734

6. Search – 1,356,691

7. Site registration – 1,259,794

8. Cal/Local section front – 1,060,332

9. Homescape

10. Envelope: Gold Derby forums

11. Lakers section front


13. Your Scene

14. Lakers blog

15. Archives


17. Weather

18. Entertainment section front

19. Business section front

20. Slide show: 2008 SAG awards

Thanks for reading, and as always, tag me or your nearest Web-minded person with thoughts and questions.

Meredith Artley
Executive Editor,

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