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YouTube Did Not Beat MySpace, Not Even Close

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A Guardian Unlimited story has floated around all day with the headline “YouTube overtakes MySpace,” detailing how the video-sharing website had surpassed MySpace in daily global Internet visits. Unfortunately, it’s flat out wrong. YouTube’s not even close.

Guardian’s Mark Sweney (didn’t he play for the Giants? No that was somebody else) based his report on data provided by Internet analysis company Alexa. While it’s true that Alexa data shows YouTube captured 3.9% of visits compared to MySpace’s 3.35%, Sweney fails to provide perspective on the numbers.

Alexa data is by its nature skewed from the outset. The data is collected via voluntarily installed toolbars, the great majority of which are used by webmasters. Surely, somebody in the blogosphere would point this out. Well, the article snowed a few of them, but there were a couple of savvy observers out there.

They must have read Matt Cutts’ recent exploration of Alexa data, where he compared his blog traffic to major search portal Ask.com. According to Matt’s Alexa analysis, his blog, just on one day, actually beat Ask.com in terms of daily reach. That’s also good news for BoingBoing and Engadget, as both receive higher traffic than Cutts, and would mean that popular blogs reached more eyeballs than Ask.com. Talk about a gold mine!

He thinks it may have been due to the “Digg effect.”

I’m clearly getting some boost from webmaster bias because so many SEOs read my blog. Am I getting a boost from anything else?I think the answer is that I’m getting a bit of geek boost too


Alexa data is skewed to represent what’s popular among Webmasters and geeks. Between YouTube and MySpace, which do you think attracts more of the geek audience, a haven for visual stimulus or a haven for pop culture teenie-boppers and pedophiles?

I’ll withdraw the question, Your Honor. It’s argumentative.

Curious about what another metrics firm had to say about the YouTube and MySpace traffic, I pegged Hitwise for their take. According to Hitwise’s data, for the week ending July 29th, MySpace.com controlled 4.73% of US visits across all categories.

YouTube attracted just (squinting) 0.23% (see graph below).

That’s a huge difference. What about Matt’s comparison? Well, according to Hitwise, a traffic spike that huge would put him in some incredible company.

Though Hitwise said that they hadn’t tracked Cutts’ blog, they did say that Ask.com was ranked as the #37 domain among all websites for the week ending July 29th, just below PayPal, and Weather.com.

Something tells me Alexa’s data on traffic to Matt’s blog is more than a little bit off. And so is Alexa’s data on YouTube.

Discuss this article with your fellow WebPros at WebProWorld.

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YouTube Did Not Beat MySpace, Not Even Close
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