Traffic fight: Hitwise says is soaring

New numbers indicate that, just as the company says, Yahoo! owned has experienced substantial growth since the December acquisition. Respected traffic analysts Hitwise just posted a report that the site’s traffic has more than doubled since January.

Last week Michael Arrington made a series of posts here about some contested traffic stats on the popular social bookmarking service His initial post focused on Comscore data, which showed traffic to the site declining (“Dazzle us again,“) and Alexa data that was showing flatlined traffic. After a conversation with founder Joshua Schacter, Eckart Walther, VP Product for Search and Melissa Rische, PR Manager for Yahoo Search he posted a follow up on the post with information from Yahoo! claiming that growth was going strong. He said he had every reason to believe that the company was telling the truth and was thus most concerned about Comscore’s inability to get the numbers right.

Traffic numbers are maddeningly difficult to nail down, it’s an issue that’s rarely discussed but is a real problem. Many people say that in the new, Web 2.0 world the page view centric model is outdated – but it’s still a heavily relied upon metric. It’s never been solid though, and today’s Hitwise numbers illustrate that powerfully. If the top three traffic analysts have 3 wildly divergent estimates on the traffic of a large and important site – what’s a person to do? Each would defend their means of measurement (Hitwise does so here) but it’s a tough call for the rest of us. (See Matt Marshall on this same subject today for more.)

The one thing that’s easy to believe is Hitwise’s demographic data: social bookmarking traffic is still very small and dominated by financially secure men in their twenties. Much of the world is still unserved by this very useful class of tools.