This was a story someone had to do, and has been an head-scratching open secret in the industry: where are Forbes.com numbers coming from? And really, why?
But if you want to do an investigative piece on it, don’t do it in this scattershot way…traffic from Comscore and Netratings, both of which are crapshoot at best. If you want to focus on something, focus on how Forbes.com gets it traffic, the quality of that traffic, the worst-design among big news websites online, the pimping of every square inch of the site, the quality of its stories, etc (Yes, I know, I’ll hear from some people…).
Talk about Forbes.com’s traffic and editorial quality becomes pertinent in light of Elevation Partners’ recent move of buying a minority stake in Forbes’s publishing business, for a reported $300-$400 million.
In this story, some competitors argue that Forbes.com’s popularity derives in part from racy, provocative or wealth-obsessed lifestyle features that have little to do with traditional business news — examples from this year include “The Hottest Billionaire Heiresses,” “Top Topless Beaches” and “America’s Drunkest Cities.” Also, competitors say that while eye-catching lifestyle stories may attract lots of readers, those readers are more transient and less likely to be the kind of high-powered professionals that advertisers pay more to reach.
Forbes.com, meanwhile, stands by its numbers, and by its demographic claims.