This morning is Superbowl Day for the web. The Apple Macworld Keynote starts at 9 Pacific, and already tech blogs like Gawker Media's Gizmodo are clocking pageviews like mad as everyone refreshes for news of Apple's latest announcement (this year the guess is an ultralight Mac laptop). It's a scheduled event with a guaranteed boost; last year Gizmodo and competitor Engadget earned four times their normal visitors (and ten times the pageviews), with Engadget breaking 10 million page views thanks to a boost from AOL. I thought ad money would be rolling in for these promised pageviews, but publisher Nick Denton explains why ad sales don't jump today:
Apple Day is a loss-leader. Amazingly, the forecasting systems built into DART [Doubleclick's ad serving system] calculate available inventory by looking at trends, and weekly patterns. They can't take account of the fact that, a year ago, there was a spike at the same time. I guess trafficking experts can make a bit of an allowance. Assume that January is going to be above the DART forecast, and allow for more sales that could normally be satisfied.
Anyway, bottom line. We will do a multiple of normal traffic. Maybe 3-4x as much. Higher bandwidth costs. But no compensating advertising. Still, need to do it because these are the events that define how well the site is competing...As the Superbowl is to TV, and elections are to cable news, so Jobsnote is to the web. It's like a supernova of web traffic, that can briefly outshine all the other stars in the galaxy put together.
To clarify: Advertisers buy bulk sets of impressions: One hundred thousand views, for example. In that bulk manner, ad teams sell up to 80% of their normal monthly inventory (usually a lot less, part of why you see "Gawker Artist" banners on this network and cheap Google ads on others). You forecast traffic based on the previous months and not on the same month one year ago, since a healthy blog grows a lot in a year. Doubleclick's ad system apparently isn't sophisticated enough to also factor in an annual January spike. Thus you have a bunch of extra pageviews today, and no extra sold ads to fill them with.