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Summary:

The Drudge Report drives more traffic to news sites than Facebook and Twitter combined, according to a Pew Research Center report. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge Matt Drudge not only as a powerful media presence but also as a great web entrepreneur.

Drudge Report home page

Drudge Report home pageFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg might be Time’s reigning Person of the Year, but when it comes to influencing the distribution of online news, he’s still no match for Matt Drudge.

Facebook is closing in on 700 million users, but according to a new study by the Pew Research center, the Drudge Report sends more than twice as much traffic to the nation’s top news sites. According to the report:

  • Overall, Drudge accounts for 7 percent of all traffic sent to news sites. That’s more than Facebook (3 percent) and Twitter (1 percent) combined.
  • “Drudge Report drove more links than Facebook or Twitter on all the sites to which it drove traffic” (emphasis added). In other words, for every single news site Drudge was ranked as a traffic source, it maintained its lead over the social networking sites.
  • Drudge drives traffic to sites across the ideological spectrum. Fox News (11 percent), Washington Post (15 percent), ABC News (11 percent), USA Today (8 percent), and Boston Globe (11 percent) all receive significant portions of their traffic from Drudge.
  • Only Google tops the Drudge Report as a traffic source.

PBS created an infographic contrasting Drudge with Facebook and Twitter. A caption on the graphic puts it all into perspective: “Five of the top 21 news sites receive more than 10 percent of their audience from the Drudge Report.”

It’s time to give Drudge his due

Forget the wisdom of the crowd. When it comes to online news, Matt Drudge is the one friend that news outlets really need to have.

Given how news outlets have struggled to adapt to the rise of the web, this should make Matt Drudge a hero. He’s sending outrageous amounts of traffic to traditional news outlets, giving them a chance to monetize their professionally generated content. But if you mention Matt Drudge in the tech world, the best you can hope for is a smirk.

Drudge is seldom lauded in Silicon Valley as a web innovator — much less an amazing entrepreneur — which is a shame. Maybe it’s because the design of his website has changed little in 14 years. He’s not on the cusp of the latest web technology to deliver content. Plus, he is politically conservative, which is at odds with the Silicon Valley area’s liberal ethos.

It’s time to give Matt Drudge his due as an Internet pioneer. Before blogging and the rise of the citizen journalist, there was the Drudge Report. In 1998, he was the first to break news linking Bill Clinton to Monica Lewinsky, a scandal that would later lead to impeachment charges being approved in the House of Representatives for only the second time in our republic’s history. That might have been the rocket that took Drudge to the top, but it’s been his own hard work and journalistic instincts that have kept him there for well over a decade.

Drudge’s game-changing design, data-driven approach

Matt Drudge used the web to change the way media works. He showed us that the Walter Cronkites of the news world — curators working at massive conglomerates — shouldn’t have a stranglehold on information. In that sense, he paved the way for subsequent online content entrepreneurs like Arianna Huffington, Mike Arrington, and Om Malik.

He also set a paradigm for web design that still stands to this day. Critics who call his site ugly miss the point. It’s easy to navigate, doesn’t hide important information under sub-sections, and has a minimalist approach to layout. It’s also data-driven. Visit the Drudge Report several times in a day and you’ll see how he tweaks headlines and moves articles around to get the optimal configuration.

Will the Drudge Report’s importance to online news compared to Facebook and other social networks diminish over time? Of course. Social networking is becoming too big a part of our lives to think otherwise. But that’s missing the point. Matt Drudge is an Internet pioneer who’s been at the top of his game since the early days of the web, and he’s disrupted an entire industry in the process.

Eric M. Jackson is the CEO/co-founder of CapLinked, an online platform for private companies, investors, and their advisors to network, manage a capital raise or asset sale, and exchange updates. He previously ran the marketing team at PayPal and is the author of The PayPal Wars.

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  1. trollaikman8 Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    The Drudge Report, 4Chan for slow adults.

  2. Apples and oranges. Or in this case, turds and gossip.

  3. Travell Perkins Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    I totally agree and feel like the social news space is still wide open. Check out http://www.rgbdaily.com , we are trying. Curation of “trusted sources” is what the world needs. Drudge Report wins because it’s all signal. The crowds can help at the curation game but you need editorial control of the fire-hose.

  4. A well deserved shout out to the Drudge Report for the traffic they create, but there isn’t a single link to the actual website in the article. Anybody else find that mildly ironic?

  5. Hey,

    You gotta give that man Matt Drudge his props. I have nothing but the highest respect for him. He branded himself with his last name, he did his thing, He made something out of nothing, he keeps puters puting, and then some.

  6. I think your analysis is flawed. There have been several studies that have shown that Drudge links to a very small number of sites — most of which are mainstream — and almost no blogs. The number of sites that see such a high level of traffic from Drudge are few, whereas Facebook sends millions of clicks not only to these mainstream sites, but to thousands upon thousands of niche and smaller sites as well. In this sense, the mass effect of Facebook cannot be confined to a small list of only a dozen news sites

  7. Really, Eric? We HAVE to give him credit? He may be credited with breaking the Monica Lewinksy story, but what has he done since? Has he moved to other media? Has he used other technology? Has he innovated at all?

    Why is this opinion piece on GigaOm? Does Om Malik now get involved in editorials? I mean, there’s really nothing in this post that is really newsworthy or worthy of tech-related mention. It’s pure fluff and editorial. Nothing less.

  8. I think your analysis is flawed. There have been several studies that have shown that Drudge links to a very small number of sites — most of which are mainstream — and almost no blogs. The number of sites that see such a high level of traffic from Drudge are few, whereas Facebook sends millions of clicks not only to these mainstream sites, but to thousands upon thousands of niche and smaller sites as well. In this sense, the mass effect of Facebook cannot be confined to a small list of only a dozen news sites.

  9. “Why I am a first class ass kisser” would be a more appropriate title for this drivel, I mean, article.

  10. And besides it doesnt matter that people click through drudge, statistically drudge could have been (and is) anyone, while FB keeps people on the site for hours and days at a time, drudge will never do that. Also drudges obvious political bias makes it hard to take him serious as a journalist, infact I cant even remember anything remarkable that he ever wrote, probably because he doesnt really write anything but four to eight words of drivel ending in “developing”. There had to be one of these guys, if he had any real talent he would have something close to facebook. So no great vision there, hes had plenty of time and other models to draw from. Hes just lucky. I have way more respect for Julian Assange, thats a real journalist.

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