Lately TechCrunch has been following the effects of the economic crisis on the technology sector quite closely. Michael Arrington and his crew have been providing us with updates of the mounting numbers of tech layoffs and failing tech companies for the past month or so. Just the other day Erick Schonfeld wrote that technology related layoffs had surged past 100,000.
With so many tech layoffs and web based start-ups failing, I wondered if tech related news sites themselves may be affected. Do you think these sorts of things affect reader interest or is the tech news industry impervious to everyone else’s economic woes? My gut says that people are always going to want to follow the news and, while the current economic situation isn’t looking too great, it wouldn’t affect website traffic. Yet it also seems like there’s been less startup announcements on TechCrunch and other startup news sites lately and I’ve noticed that some have been posting more list- and hack-like postings to fill-in the gaps. Thus perhaps, in part, less startup announcements diminish traffic by removing the media buzz that’s created by the startups, which there are less of, and the workers themselves, which have also been reduced due to all the layoffs. Furthermore, if your tech news site’s central focus is internet start-ups then I would expect it to take a greater hit in traffic versus those that cover a broader spectrum of technology related news. While this all sounds like pure speculation, I have included the actual traffic stats from Compete so you can check them out and decide for yourself.
Just another example of technology related websites experiencing declines in web traffic for the month of November
Okay, so not everyone is experiencing the a reduction in monthly unique visitors and those that are seeing a drop in traffic aren’t affected to the same degree. Why isn’t there a more broad effect? Well, perhaps technology related sites that cover a broader range of topics are able to diversify their interests enough to defend against such vulnerabilities. We can see this for example in Wired (+22.1%), Digg (+4.6%), and CNET (+8.7%). Also, there are some tech related niche topics that appear to not be affected at all. Indeed, it seems that productivity and DIY focused sites like Lifehack, Lifehacker, and DumbLittleMan (14.8%) all grew in unique visitor traffic for the month of November.
So if there is indeed a downward trend of less readers logging on to visit these type of websites, what’s the reason? Is it because the economic decline of the tech market has yielded less startups and therefore there is less exciting news to be covered or is it because niche readers in this industry are turned off to such interests after being laid off themselves? Perhaps a simpler explanation is that laid off workers and everyone else throughout the entire U.S., regardless of their profession and online reading interests, are tightening up their wallets and dropping their ISP by choice or necessity. Another possibility is that web traffic for November is usually low anyway. Figures 5 and 6 below indicate that neither such scenario is likely given that 8 of the top 10 most popular websites in the U.S. demonstrated an increase in unique visitors for the past month.
Thus it does seem at least plausible that TechCrunch and other similar tech news sites, which put more of a focused effort into covering new internet startups, may be more susceptible to a loss in traffic if there are reductions in the total number of startups launching over a period of time.
It is interesting to note, however, that TechCrunch’s own network sites, TechCrunchIT (-14.3%), CrunchBase (-18.6%), and MobileCrunch (0.0%) are all experiencing either a loss in traffic or no gains at all. Meanwhile CrunchGear saw a 7.9% increase in the number of unique visitors for the same month.If you liked this article, please take this time to share it with your Facebook friends using the Facebook button (see Facebook post button to the left) or retweet it using Twitter (see retweet button to the left). You may also want to follow us or subscribe to the site to stay up-to-date with this article. If you'd rather follow us from your Facebook account, join our Facebook fan page or subscribe to our NetworkedBlogs profile.
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