How Beyonce Is Bigger Than Hurricanes, Earthquakes and SuperBowl SundayWhen I was a child, there was a number that crudely measured how many people paid attention to something. It was called the Nielsen rating. Perhaps you remember it. Today it’s an unimportant relic that only reveals what was happening.

The VMAs had its biggest show ever this year. A record-breaking 12.4 million people tuned in live. Which actually seems like a very small number, given how many people were talking about it. Because while MTV had a hit with the VMAs, so did Twitter. News of Beyonce’s uterine passenger, which she revealed at the show, generated some 8,868 Tweets per second. It was Twitter’s biggest moment yet. And it shows that the company is sitting on the most valuable advertising data that there is: a way to measure, package and sell unexpected things that we care about right now, in real time.

We used to rely on ratings or audited circulation numbers to determine what people were interested in. Today, we increasingly talk about Tweets Per Second. (And by “we,” I mean the always hungry media maw, smacking its lips in anticipation of sucking marrow from the next micro trend or attention spasm that might convince an otherwise disinterested viewer to flip the channel to 759—or even better, stay there.)

Whenever anything big happens in the news, CNN and Fox News and the networks increasingly break into Twitter mode, reading tweets on the air, talking about how many people are tweeting and generally going into wild-eyed social media mania.

Aside from making Mark Zuckerberg wish he had made status messages public by default from the get-go so that CNN would read Facebook updates on air, it’s revealing in that it shows that even the professional media—the ostensible arbiters of opinion and news—have realized that you and I are no longer paying attention.

We’re more interested in each other. We’re all broadcasting now. I’d prefer to hear what you have to say, especially in aggregate, than tune into Wolf Blitzer. And when it comes to measuring the impact of events, social media ratings matter more than Nielsens, or at least they should, and here’s why.

Twitter is the most important metric of attention. It is not based on past behavior. It is equally capable of measuring scripted events, and the completely unexpected. And it is remarkable because it measures not just consumption, but also interest.

Yes, the Nielsens will tell you how many people watched the VMAs, but social media can tell you how many people actually paid attention. And while maybe you could have foreseen they might be big this year, would anyone have been able to predict that the VMAs—not the Oscars, not the SuperBowl, not the final Shuttle launch—would be the most talked-about television event of the year? Twitter can tell you that. (Facebook should be able to as well.) And it can tell you that as it happens.

In 2008, when it was still a nascent service, Twitter revealed some numbers to me that showed its top events of the previous year, measured in the number of tweets per minute. How Beyonce Is Bigger Than Hurricanes, Earthquakes and SuperBowl Sunday

The chart is a remarkable demonstration of Twitter’s growth. Tweets per minute? How quaint! Tweets are now measured at a faster rate per second than they were just three years ago per minute.

But it’s more interesting to see how consistently interested we are in the unexpected. Because while Twitter has changed greatly in the past three years—from how it works, to the way we access it, to the number of people on it—the things we are simultaneously interested in haven’t changed at all.

Today, Beyonce’s VMA appearance holds the top spots for Tweets per second. Prior to that, the news of the Japanese Women’s World Cup victory held the record. (Likely because it was an event intently watched by two very Twitter heavy countries.) And while it didn’t break a record, the recent east coast earthquake generated 5,500 TPS. In 2008, a presidential debate held the top spot. It knocked off a Japanese earthquake. A Euro 2008 semi final match was the big event prior to that. What all of these events have in common is a certain unpredictability.

The thing about television ratings or audited circulation numbers is that they have never truly been about what we are paying attention to. They were (and are) a way for advertisers to make informed decisions about what to invest in based on what people have paid attention to in the past, as a predictor of future performance. They only measure what has already transpired. This may have been useful for buying chunks of time during a season finale of Dallas, but when something amazing and unexpected happens, there is no good way for an advertiser to catch up with it.

When Twitter measures tweets per second, it measures what people are interested in right now. It measures live attention. And that is very, very valuable. Imagine if, during an earthquake, a QuakeKit ad appeared in your timeline, one that was triggered only when earthquake tweets per second crossed a certain threshold. Tacky? Sure. But you can bet your bottled water it would sell a lot of kits.

This is the promise of real-time conversation, that our interests can be commoditized, live and on the fly. It doesn’t have to be just about Twitter, of course. Facebook and Google+ should be equally capable of measuring, packaging and selling our real-time, trending interest data. But it’s very clear that this new ability to measure what we care about enough to comment on right now, at this very instant, is much more valuable than measurements of past performance or passive consumption.

All the moreso because of how much society has fragmented. We no longer all watch the same four channels, or even tune in to television series at the same time. The only things that seem to capture our simultaneous attention anymore are those that offer the high drama of the unexpected and unknown: sports, politics (itself a sort of sport), provocative live television, and natural disasters that occur with little-to-no warning.

And, of course, Beyonce.

You can keep up with Mat Honan, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

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Source: Declined in First Full Month With Paywall; Daily Deal Sites Continue to Thrive

BOSTON, MA–(Marketwire) - Compete, a Kantar Media company, today released its ranking of the top 50 websites for April 2011. Notable changes during the month included, which saw unique visitors (UVs) decline during its first full month behind a paywall. Elsewhere on the list, daily deal sites thrived and video site climbed more than 200 spots. Drops dropped 20.4 percent in April — a 24.9 percent decline from one year earlier; traffic decreased across nearly all of’s subdomains. But sports blogs were interesting exceptions in April: (baseball), (basketball) and (football) increased traffic during the month, with month-over-month growth of 57.8 percent, 142.4 percent and 44.5 percent respectively. Readers, it seems, do not part as easily with their sports content.

Daily Deal Duel
As the race intensifies in the daily deals space, Groupon still leads the way with nearly 24 million UVs, increasing 5.4 percent M-O-M and 655.8 percent Y-O-Y. While only boasts half as many UVs at this point (roughly 11.5 million), its rate of growth for the month, 32.7 percent, was six-times greater than Groupon’s, and its Y-O-Y growth rate stands at 418.4 percent. It is catching up quickly.

One to Watch:
In April, traffic to video site grew 46.6 percent for the month (92.3 percent for the year). This helped the site shoot up more than 200 spots in Compete’s rankings, likely a result of the growing popularity of video sharing sites.

Top Ten Order Unchanged
The order of top ten sites remained unchanged in April and no site had a monthly traffic increase. While, ranked #4, stayed steady with no change, the other nine sites experienced drops in UVs during April.

Information regarding top 250 websites is drawn from the Compete PRO Enterprise edition on For more information on the enterprise offering, please contact Lauren Streisfeld at

Rank Site Unique Visitors Monthly Change Yearly Change
1 150,132,536 -0.29% -0.34%
2 137,917,539 -2.00% 13.33%
3 137,281,886 -0.11% 2.02%
4 123,404,304 0.00% 22.42%
5 86,836,886 -3.51% 48.43%
6 81,157,591 -2.31% 6.01%
7 74,978,780 -1.29% 12.71%
8 73,799,209 -2.74% 8.95%
9 72,369,485 -4.69% 4.21%
10 67,372,294 -1.65% -10.04%
11 65,940,748 -5.50% 12.10%
12 62,162,835 -0.94% 9.19%
13 57,500,250 -1.86% -5.52%
14 54,508,628 -3.14% -10.72%
15 49,504,372 -8.20% 17.32%
16 47,709,562 -4.30% 3.88%
17 46,906,652 -6.07% 2.32%
18 46,349,561 5.44% 14.15%
19 45,960,705 -7.74% 60.20%
20 42,276,025 -10.87% 38.03%
21 36,700,156 -0.60% -9.61%
22 36,178,431 1.79% 24.64%
23 33,728,429 10.51% 11.58%
24 33,459,473 -2.92% 1.92%
25 33,129,869 -1.74% 52.15%
26 32,876,686 -16.55% -53.60%
27 31,870,573 2.97% 11.06%
28 31,103,237 -11.00% 10.79%
29 31,079,363 -14.31% 3.17%
30 27,504,233 -11.33% -0.75%
31 26,432,079 1.00% 5.86%
32 25,744,344 -9.11% 12.12%
33 25,671,467 0.79% 4.82%
34 23,787,667 -9.47% -2.86%
35 23,768,883 5.40% 655.82%
36 23,341,250 -15.81% -13.93%
37 21,514,439 -1.85% -13.68%
38 20,523,415 -4.93% -23.97%
39 20,077,436 11.53% 57.38%
40 19,690,984 -6.36% -1.66%
41 19,683,713 5.93% 40.39%
42 19,682,366 -2.12% -4.02%
43 19,452,462 5.67% 33.94%
44 19,348,832 11.41% 25.28%
45 19,244,361 12.20% 3.58%
46 18,440,068 -7.54% 11.74%
47 18,405,154 -5.23% -13.40%
48 18,362,992 -5.35% 60.51%
49 17,984,172 4.04% 26.90%
50 17,949,686 13.16% 19.84%

About Compete
Compete, a Kantar Media company, helps the world’s top brands improve their marketing based on the online behavior of millions of consumers. Leading advertisers, agencies and publishers rely on Compete’s products and services to create engaging online experiences and highly profitable advertising campaigns. Compete’s online panel — the largest in the industry — makes the web as ingrained in marketing as it is in people’s lives. Compete is located in Boston, MA, with offices throughout the U.S. For more information, please visit

About Kantar Media
Established in more than 50 countries, Kantar Media helps clients master the world’s multimedia momentum through analysis of print, radio, TV, internet, cinema, mobile, social media, and outdoor worldwide. Kantar Media offers a full range of media insights and audience measurement services through its global business sectors — Intelligence, Audiences, TGI and Custom. Kantar Media companies also include Compete, Cymfony and SRDS. Drawing upon the deepest expertise in the industry, Kantar Media tracks more than 3 million brands and delivers insight to more than 22,000 customers worldwide.

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eBooks Are Now Overtaking All Other FormatsIt’s starting to get a little frustrating when people ask whether or not they should get an eReader. Yes. If sales are any indication, whether you opt for a Kindle, Nook, or even your iPhone, ebooks are officially the present.

The Association of American Publishers is reporting that ebooks outsold their print counterparts in February, with sales coming out to more than $90 million. That comes a month after Amazon reported that Kindle ebooks were outdoing paperbacks. Paperbacks sold $81.2 million last month.

It should be noted, however, that the report isn’t definite. Andi Sporkin, spokeswoman for the AAP, told CNN that the findings don’t account for every book sold as some publishers may choose to not submit their numbers. What’s more, they do admit that the numbers are coming out of the Christmas season. However, 202% growth in any medium can be used as a barometer for what’s going on right now. [CNN Money via AAP]

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StockTwits, a realtime platform for stock traders to share information, has been undergoing a rapid growth spurt of late. According to Quantcast, 465,000 people are now visiting the site per month, which means the company has more than doubled its visitors since early December, when less than 200,000 were checking in to share and trade. This seems largely due to the service’s continuing evolution beyond its TweetDeck roots and creation of its own true investor ecosystem chalk full of video, news and charts — all enabled by an AIR app.

What’s more, the company announced in December that Yahoo would begin pulling data from the StockTwits API and adding it to individual stock pages, complementing the similar deals it had already forged with CNN, MarketWatch, and Bloomberg.

And now it seems that, while Yahoo is pulling data from its API, StockTwits has been busy pulling senior executives from Yahoo’s staff. (I guess turnabout is fair play?) In yet another victory for a company not named Yahoo, David Putnam, who for the past five years has been responsible for global product strategy and management at Yahoo, announced on his blog today that he will be joining StockTwits on April 1 as VP of Product.

This comes on the heels of StockTwits hiring Chris Bullock as its new VP of Corporate Services. Bullock was formerly the senior managing director for global investor relations services at NASDAQ and is charged with bringing investor relations departments to the StockTwits ecosystem.

Putnam, for one, sees a bright future for the up-and-coming stock conversation curator, saying, “StockTwits is big, getting bigger, and going to be huge”. In leaving Yahoo Finance, Putnam is stepping away from, in his words, “the largest financial website in the world”, which he helped to grow to 45 million users a month. Aside from Yahoo’s notorious (and seemingly never-ending) struggles, that’s no easy feat. If StockTwits is hoping to one day take on the big players like Yahoo, nabbing the company’s execs is a great way to start.

As Putnam turns his sights to “helping build the biggest financial idea network in the world”, it will be important for the company to remain focused on building a rabid community and not monthly site traffic.

Investor relations will be a big area for StockTwits going forward, as quite a few companies have started using the service to disseminate information among investors and answer their questions. As part of its features, StockTwits distributes companies’ messages to Bloomberg, Yahoo! Finance, CNN Money and Bing Finance, a big selling point for many companies. If the service can continue to add to its investor relations, we all may be StockTwitting in the near future.

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