Going Direct

Every few months, I like to share some analytics on this blog's audience. Here's the google analytics refer logs for the past thirty days:


The thing that jumps out at me is the magnitude of the direct audience. If you add the direct category, this blog's RSS feed (Feedburner), and the avc.blogs.com domain (the original domain of this blog which still works), you get roughly 86,000 visits which is roughly half of all the visits.

That's a lot of direct visits for a website given all the distribution channels out there (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Techmeme, Hacker News, etc).

I think it reflects two things:

1) the loyalty of this blog's audience – many of you come to read this blog every day and I suspect that you come via a bookmark, the feed, or some other way you've set up to remember to do that.

2) Twitter – most of the traffic that comes from twitter clients still registers as direct traffic in google analytics. i hope Twitter and Google work out some way to fix that soon. it's been an issue for years now.

SInce I don't use a feed reader of any kind, I often forget how powerful that distribution channel is. I was one of the first users of Feedburner and was an investor in Feedburner before it was sold to Google. I don't think about Feedburner much any more. It's a set it and forget it sort of thing. But Feedburner is a huge distribution channel for this blog. Here are some stats for the past thirty days:

The reach number is the number of different feed readers that open a post from this blog per day. Feedburner tells us that an average of 11k readers per day open a post from this blog in their reader. Google Analytics says the number of web visits per day to this blog is between 5k and 10k on most days. So that means that there are more readers of this blog via the feed than the web.

It's pretty eye opening to be honest. I spend so much time thinking about internet distribution channels and the impact of search and social media on audience and traffic that I don't pay as much attention to the value of a loyal and consistent audience and yet that is exactly what we have here at AVC. Kind of ironic. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. DonRyan

    I’ve been a reader for about five years and view through Google Reader. I initially had the page bookmarked until I learned the joy of RSS. I’ll click through when there’s something in particular I want to see or to comment. I can only think of once in the last five years when you didn’t do a daily post. That’s pretty impressive. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us daily.

    1. Phillip Baker

      I think that regularity and consistency could be a big reason why so many people choose to access this blog directly.

      1. fredwilson

        i agree

      2. Donna Brewington White

        The “regularity and consistency” allow the opportunity to cover a vast range of topics which expands the reach of this blog — not to mention Fred’s engageability and hospitality both in the actual post and in his responses to comments. This has contributed to the highly dynamic nature of this blog. No longer is it a matter of just reading Fred’s posts, but I am also interested in some of the conversations that get started and watching them unfold. There is almost always something very interesting going on here among the “regulars” or some intriguing new voice that pipes in, not to mention the surprise “visits” by an industry veteran or notable.I find that the community that has formed creates a situation in which even if the particular subject matter is not something that I would have automatically gravitated toward, I am still interested in seeing how the community responds and interacts. There are so many surprises here, day after day.

  2. falicon

    you often get at least double from me…because I read the posts in google reader, but then I’m often compelled to jump over and see what the chatter is on the comment boards (which I usually do via the google/reader comments link)…I suspect I’m not the only one who does this.

    1. Jon Knight

      same here fred.like … just …. now.

    2. Phillip Baker

      Me three. Although, I recently discovered the ‘Context’ button on Disqus.com and that saves me a lot of time loading AVC.com 🙂 It would be even better if the excerpts were a tiny bit longer.

      1. Phillip Baker

        Hey, and Disqus auto-linked those two Web addresses, is that new as well? Very slick!

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t know if people are noticing but disqus has been rolling out a lot of new things but they are doing it gradually and i bet that most people are not even noticing. you did phillip and you are right

          1. Mike

            Don’t know what all Disqus is rolling out but have they considered changing the “popular now” feature by focusing on the total value (total “likes”) in a threaded conversation vs. simply the initial comment?I often find that the more colorful conversations don’t always start with a pithy comment that gets 5+ “likes”, so I usually end up skimming to find the people I know from experience leave thoughtful replies.Looking forward to future tweaks to the service.

          2. ShanaC

            That’s interesting- as in there is brands within a brand….

      2. Mark Essel

        I can’t believe I missed that context button. Thanks Phillip

        1. paramendra

          What context button?

          1. Mark Essel

            on the disqus page: http://disqus.com/VictusFate/if you follow people on disqus you can find out what they’re saying onvarious blogs around the web and what they are responding to

      3. ShanaC

        It cuts off longer comments- also the hour sums up comments, but sometimes you can’t exit that screen (the comment is too long)

    3. Mark Essel

      Whoa still up? Did you hack & Tech Disrupt with your eyes closed?Props

      1. falicon

        finished up the core of my hack around 6 this morning ( http://appsigot.com )…so spent the last few hours killing time reading blogs, doing the email thing, and watching hulu…gotta stay awake long enough to demo and then head to softball game before going home to see the family and finally crash…

        1. Mark Essel

          Sacred order for appsigot.com, oauth or facebook connect first then create an account right?Knock ’em dead at the demo.

          1. falicon

            that…only the exact opposite :-)1. Create APPSiGOT account, 2. associate it to twitter and/or facebook (at this point you’ll be able to see what apps your twitter and/or facebook friends have shared)…3. download/install/run the AIR app to share what apps you have (ie. add them to the master system)

          2. Mark Essel

            Gotcha. I sync on Michelle’s iMac but only rarely so I’ll have to wait till there’s an “app for that”

    4. ShanaC

      no I sometimes do this, and maintain multiple pageviews (I really love tabs)

  3. Dan Ramsden

    For a while I recall a bunch of speculation in the blogosphere that Twitter was going to be the end of the RSS feed. Apparently this is not on its way to becoming a reality, at least not yet. I use both, in combination, for essentially the same purpose, and it seems like I’m not alone. In my case, the Twitter feed serves more of a mobile function, while RSS is desktop and with more time to browse. I wonder if this is indicative of bigger trends also.

    1. fredwilson

      twitter = mobile + serendipitousRSS = web + subscriptions

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Agree. I use Google Reader for the blogs I already know and like (except this one, I know I always enjoy the comments, so I come here directly) and Twitter to discover new places from people I know (kind of) and like.

  4. Morgan Warstler

    How does a DISQUS email get counted? Do they not count their clicks?

    1. fredwilson

      good question. we need that answer

    2. obscurelyfamous

      Links in the notification emails are shortened with http://disq.us. We use that shortener to track the clickthrough data. It’s going to be exposed in a few new ways coming up — specifically, 3 new features in the works right now will make use of that.

  5. jer979

    Loyal greader here. Only visit blog to comment

  6. DGentry

    There is also Google Buzz. I end up seeing your articles twice, in GReader and Buzz. I also notice them fly by in Twitter, but generally don’t click as I’ll read them elsewhere.As Buzz uses https, it does not send referrer information and will not be broken out separately in Analytics. Your Buzz feed comes from Feedburner, and the URL in the entry is the Feedburner tracking URL. I think Buzz clickthroughs get listed as Feedburner in Analytics, and will show up as “Clicks” in the Feedburner Popular Items list.

    1. Mark Essel

      Good catch Denton. It would be nice to see Buzz referrals.I’d like to add it may not matter as much where readers find AVC, but why they keep coming back.

    2. fredwilson

      yes, buzz and reader are both part of the feedburner category

  7. RichardF

    It’s strange that you don’t think about it yet the way that you blog i.e. turn up every day, provide consistently excellent content and interact with your audience is the way to engender a loyal and regular readership.

    1. fredwilson

      a lot of our investment has been in platforms that drive either new visitors or engagement so that’s where my head is atbut clearly the trick of showing up every day and delivering quality content is just as importantit may not be as investable though

      1. RichardF

        sometimes you just can’t bottle and sell the je ne sais quoi

  8. awaldstein

    Isn’t that what community is Fred…those who come back because they are part of it?It gets larger by channels but I bet it increases by work of mouth most of all.Hey, have I said ‘thanks’ for keeping this going? Black Cat expresso from my La Pavoni and AVC.com start many of my days.Thanks!

    1. Mark Essel

      Giant iced coffee, my mobile phone while walking and avc.com are my usual ritual

    2. Dave Pinsen

      What’s interesting is the relatively tiny percentage of daily commenters when you compare that number to the huge number of daily readers. I wonder if there is a ratio of commenters to readers that’s roughly consistent across all blogs.

      1. awaldstein

        I bet it’s tiny Dave.I think Fred blogged on this a while back…less than 1%.Re: daily commenters…I go in phases as my world is project driven now and time is a precious commodity. Commenting and allowing myself the leisure to engage is not something I can do everyday. It always pays back, like exercise, but it doesn’t always take priority.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          We should connect when you hit one of your slower periods between projects. There’s an idea I’ve been meaning to run by you that I think may tie in with some of your recent work.

          1. awaldstein

            Most certainly Dave. Deciding now about the summer…slow down and hang around. Travel. Or whatever. I’ll let you know.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Sounds good.

        2. paramendra

          100 comments for 10,000 readers, and one person often leaves more than one comment, and Fred leaves quite a few per post in the form of replies. So, it is less than 1%. But how many people who read the blog post also read the comments? 1,000? 2,000? I’d guess it would be something in that range. So we commenters have a lot of catching up to do with the blogger here. 😉

      2. fredwilson

        we are going to start getting visibility into that sooni can’t say more right now

        1. Dave Pinsen


        2. ShanaC

          extremely interesting

      3. ShanaC

        I sort of expect that number to be higher- there is a rough long tail distribution pattern of commenters. I’m also not surprised- one of the larger questions I have is how does content spread, mutate, and grow- that is a larger question answered by that spread.

      4. Jose Paul Martin

        I’m guessing 7%-10%

      5. Christian Brucculeri

        I’m guessing this community has a lower than average percentage of readers who contribute to the comments, largely because it’s a fairly intimidating pool of water to jump into.Also, a lot of “non-tech” people read these posts. Most of the people I talk to who read this blog are analysts or media people. They’re not really interested in commenting, more in keeping up to date with emerging trends in the space.

  9. David Ashwood

    I think many of the mobile or host based twitter clients also show up as direct traffic due to the way that links are opened by them (technically it’s usually done as a shell open).

  10. zerobeta

    Also interesting how much traffic comes from curators/aggregators (and how much those type of sites “convert” to direct visits)

  11. gbattle

    Fred-The problem with Google Analytics is that they cannot break down that direct bucket effectively across:EmailAdobe AIRInstant MessagingSMSSmartphone ClientsFind a few popular global bit.ly links to your content and get a sampling of part of that break down.

    1. fredwilson

      totally righti’ve written a few posts about this and done that breakdownpassed links are important and google analytics doesn’t really give you visibility into them

  12. reece

    Classic Godin. ‘Build an audience.’Well articulated by the 37Signals guys in Rework as well.

  13. Mark Essel

    Arnold Waldstein got me hooked on subscribing to my favorite blog and tech news by email. Thanks again Arnold, that has saved me plenty of reader navigation time (I only visit Google reader once every couple of weeks).For AVC I always just type it in or come to the bookmark because commenting here is important to me. This is the crowd I want critical feedback from. I can’t buy this type of advice.How do stats compare to last year Fred? You said your views were stable, and I countered that I felt your blog was on the rise last year. What’s the verdict year to year?

    1. fredwilson

      you are rightit has been up 30% in the past year

      1. ShanaC

        I knew that- it is showing up in the amount of comments. Any clue as to why?

    2. paramendra

      “I can’t buy this type of advice.”I get more out of these comments sections than the NY Tech MeetUp after party, and that is really saying something. I don’t know about obvious benefits, but it is that sense of community that gets me.

  14. Elie Seidman

    If you add in branded/navigational search to the count, it would be even more skewed. What percentage of your google organic includes the avc or Fred Wilson etc. I’d guess it’s a lot. As chris dixon wrote about on his most recent blog post, that kind of brand loyalty developing – particularly in the high value/high monetization commerce categories – is a major threat to the role if search. Google almost certainly loses money on the search for [amazon nikon d700]

    1. fredwilson

      the variations of avc and fred wilson make up about 20% of my search traffic. you are right that is additional direct traffic

  15. Dan Jackson

    Fred, if you don’t use Google Reader… have you found a better way to sort through and prioritize all updates from your sources? I’ve always found it to be tough to stay on top of rss feeds due to the volume.

    1. fredwilson

      i follow the links that come to me during the day; twitter, email, techmeme, hacker news, etci’ve written a bunch about thisi don’t like locking into a specific set of blogsi prefer just letting the good posts find me

      1. paramendra

        “i prefer just letting the good posts find me”That is a cutting edge thing to say. Simple, but cutting edge.

  16. Elie Seidman

    Oh, in response to your last comment in the post, I think that the most important stats by far for any web business are engagement and recurrence. The free traffic from google is great but if it does not stick…

  17. William Mougayar

    The high number from direct is because you have a high brand perception already. AVC is a known brand that readers seek on a daily basis. It’s very easy to type directly avc.com straight into the browser. I rarely read your posts my twitter stream, as it would take too long to find them from there. (I’m not one of those that has TweetDeck open all day)This speaks volume about the power of “Content Marketing”: your content is your marketing.

    1. Jose Paul Martin


  18. taylorwc

    Fred–it’s interesting that you posted Google Analytics metrics. Based on the demo on chartbeat’s site, I would have guessed that would be your analytics provider of choice. Any thoughts on what you use G Analytics for vs Chartbeat?

    1. fredwilson

      i think of chartbeat for real-time and google for past thirty daysi also use sitemeter which is what i started with and still check pretty oftenit is the analytics link i showcase on my blog’s upper right sidebar

  19. kidmercury

    analytics is still broken, especially the javascript stuff like google analytics. not to mention the power it gives google in creating reality. analytics def needs to be federated IMHO.

  20. MrColes

    I would bet that #2—Twitter clients and other unmeasurable links—account for the vast majority of the direct traffic. My blog doesn’t get much traffic at all, but when I had a few posts circulating around twitter, my direct traffic percentage sky rocketed.

  21. Viktor Ovurmind

    I like this Barabasi quote “Then power laws emerge — nature’s unmistakable sign that chaos is departing in favor of order.” see http://www.dougsimpson.com/blog/archives/000075… So [avc.com] serves a great tribal meeting point because it is easy to remember it as a URL and it is more than a community, it is an established destination.[v.o.M.]

  22. paramendra

    I was at ProBlogger.net a few days back, and I looked at Darren Rowse’s FeedBurner count, and it is at 130K, and I remember thinking, wow, Fred has 92K. He has a serious standing as a blogger. Forget the VC part. That is a whole different topic. Maybe once in a while he should write posts sharing blogging techniques. One is: blog daily. 🙂

  23. Donna Brewington White

    Evidence that you have the makings of a very powerful brand. I wonder how far your brand could translate into other arenas.

  24. Dave Eisenberg

    The issue you’ve highlighted here is a huge problem for e-commerce companies: not knowing how to properly attribute causality to “direct” traffic. Have a lot of people heard about AVC from friends? I’ve certainly mentioned it to plenty of associates over the past few years. Have others viewed links to your posts on blogs or Twitter, hit a simple control-T and popped in avc.com to the nav bar? There are myriad behaviors other than loyal viewers coming back directly that are being swallowed up by the catch-all “direct” in Google Analytics.It will be really exciting to either see Google or a new player tackle the traffic and/or conversion attribution question over the coming years. I’m aware of a few players tackling it now, but based on my understanding of their products, they haven’t hit it out of the park yet.What is really needed to drive this change is marketers (and bloggers) who need to know what comprises “direct” in order to make better marketing investment decisions. I’ve met so many e-commerce marketers over-attributing affiliate channels and “last-click” models that it seems to me that the time is right for a sea change in how we think about causal traffic generation.

    1. ShanaC

      Also large question which I really want to know- what causes people to engage in something when they do- why do I ignore most things on the internet (like most people)? What causes someone to go back? And at what point will they do something more…

  25. ShanaC

    beyond “I show up” what causes the engagement in the first place, and what causes it to rise? While here it is “content” per say- what causes someone to engage in the content, what causes a product to stick or not? It’s not just a show up thing…something more….

  26. Aviah Laor

    Interesting. avc.com is one the first websites I open. Why? not really sure. I think that once you had the daily flood of endless news in a newspaper, and if you wanted the “meta-news”, you had the Time or Newsweek. In a way, avc.com is the “daily Time for tech”. One topic a day to think about, not too long, covering range of subjects, point of views and attitudes, with a personal voice. And it’s great.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks aviah

  27. brmore

    <snip> the loyalty of this blog’s audience – many of you come to read this blog every day and I suspect that you come via a bookmark, the feed, or some other way you’ve set up to remember to do that.</snip>Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, it’s ’cause you right good stuff that we like to read. I suppose that might be construed as sucking up a bit, but it’s certainly true. If your “writing quality” (generically) went down, so would you numbers I suspect.Not that you would want to test this, but I wonder if drop would be uniform across the distro channels?

    1. fredwilson

      when i write something that is really good, i know it right awaymost of what i write is ok but not fantasticbut i feel the need to put something out there everydayi can’t explain why that is, but it works for me

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        That one-post-a-day policy is great in two ways:1. We have something everyday. That’s huge, thanks!.2. There is not more material available and we can feel we know everything. I think that if you wrote more posts a day it would be much more difficult to catch up with everything and the sense of being part of a community would decrease.

  28. Jose Paul Martin

    Fred, I think you could attribute it to your AVC branding… but what is more important is the level of community you have here… that’s real indication of interest, interaction and just plain stickiness.Btw, just curious… howdya come up with avc.com – was it just a coincidence and availability?

    1. fredwilson

      it was avc.blogs.com for many yearsavc was something i came up in about ten seconds when typepad asked me for anamei thought “i am a vc” so i’ll call it AVCi bought AVC.com a few years ago after trying for years to get it

  29. valto

    Thanks for sharing this and for the community you have build. The wisdom you share yourself and what you channel from others for us to take a note is just great. Doing all of this as regular and consistent as you do is highly appreciated.

  30. bijan

    Great stats for a great blog!I’m was trying to figure this out for my blog but not sure how many of the folks that follow me on Tumblr visit within dashboard only. Also challenging how to count reblogs as well.

    1. fredwilson

      tumblr’s analytics could be a lot better

  31. skysurfer172

    In about another year’s worth of Monday’s, I am going to print out an official looking AVC MBA diploma and proudly hang it in my office.

  32. steveobd

    Fred, if you use the FeedBurner Socialize service to distribute your tweets on Twitter (http://adsenseforfeeds.blogspot.com/2009/12/soc…), then we do automatically add the correct tags so you can separate the traffic in Google Analytics.

  33. HowieG

    You are a superstar. Very impressed. I don’t subscribe to blogs usually I bookmark the good ones and go direct. Though sometimes you beat me too it on Twitter and I will click through on there.