Here’s the headline: “Tumblr boasts nearly 170 million monthly visitors”
Only that’s not quite right. Those 170 million monthly visitors aren’t going to Tumblr.com for the sake of visiting Tumblr. They’re looking at this kind of thing (and rightfully so, because it’s awesome).
That’s an important difference. I have no issue if those numbers are meant to show the rise of Tumblr as a publishing platform. But if the stats are trying to place Tumblr in the same domain as other top sites, we need to take a step back and consider the context.
Here’s Quantcast’s* current list of the top 10 sites “based on the number of people in the United States who visit each site within a month”:
- Google; 194,407,568 [monthly people in the U.S.]
- YouTube; 174,158,768
- Facebook; 140,719,136
- MSN; 98,480,592
- Twitter; 91,263,448
- Yahoo; 79,030,880
- Amazon; 76,791,592
- Wikipedia; 68,114,712
- Microsoft; 63,044,600
- Huffingtonpost; 61,289,024
Tumblr is a publishing platform / discovery tool. The only other sites in the top 10 that compare — and this is a reach — are YouTube and Twitter. Both of those sites are also utilities — a significant portion of their engagement and distribution occurs off-site via embeds and external tools. Tumblr doesn’t really work that way.
Tumblr is closer to WordPress.com and Blogger, and that comparison is where things get interesting.
From the same Quantcast stats:
No. 15: Tumblr; 51,947,516 [monthly people in the U.S.]
No. 17: WordPress: 51,182,896
No. 19: Blogger: 48,293,848
Tumblr certainly has something to celebrate, but it isn’t the thing that’s being played up.
*I’m using Quantcast data because that’s the source of the “170 million” figure. The validity of Quantcast’s numbers is beyond the scope of this admittedly feeble examination.
Alan Mutter says newspaper ad sales have fallen 25 quarters in a row:
It is a testimony to the legendarily high operating margins of the [newspaper] industry and the considerable cost-slashing skills of contemporary publishers that nearly all the newspapers in business in mid-2006, when the trouble began, are still plugging along today.
Analysts caution that the technology is still immature, with high costs and accuracy issues keeping more prospective customers on the sidelines. Adding more Wi-Fi access points and other hardware is expensive. Most indoor positioning systems, even using Wi-Fi, still miss the precise location by several feet. And there aren’t enough high-end smartphones in the market that can handle indoor positioning. [Emphasis added.]
“Several feet” isn’t good enough when you can’t find the damn Tobasco sauce.