Six years ago, there were critics who gave us six months.
I heard it in Batavia and read it from pundits online.
When Billie and I assumed ownership of The Batavian, the site had three sponsors and hadn't yet cracked 2,400 visitors in a day. There were naysayers who thought we were foolish to sell our home in Pittsford and rent a tiny duplex on Maple Street and pretend we could be local online news publishers in Batavia.
That was March 1, 2009.
Today, thanks to the support of our readers, we have more than 140 sponsors and employ three people (including our editor for the Wyoming County Free Press).
Last week, we had 12,000 visitors to The Batavian every day. That's normal now, and on big news days we're well over 15,000 visitors and sometimes as high as 20,000.
In a county with a population of only 57,000 people, we get 120,000 visitors to the site per month, who visit the site 550,000 times per month. (Source for these numbers is our Google Analytics account, which tells us nearly 60 percent of that traffic comes from within Genesee County, with the bulk of the rest coming from the rest of Western New York (likely local residents checking us out while at work.)
Those might seem like staggering numbers, or perhaps not. There are sites online where those traffic numbers would be considered abysmal, so some context is needed.
We get context by comparing our traffic with the local news organization we consider our competitor, the Batavia Daily News.
The chart above comes from a site called Quantcast, which measures the traffic of both TheBatavian.com and TheDailyNewsOnline.com.
The top line is The Batavian, which covers only one county, and the bottom line is the Batavia Daily News, which counts as its market area three counties (Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans).
Billie and I are really proud of how people in Genesee County have embraced The Batavian as the go-to local news source. The spikes in the chart above especially illustrated how important we are to local readers when there is breaking news.
Quantcast says in the past 30 days, The Batavian has had 127,000 unique visitors (kind of like counting individual computers that visit the site) compared to 99,000 for the Batavia Daily News. We've had 663,081 visits (counts people visiting multiple times) compared to 422,000 for the Batavia Daily News.
Marketers use a term called Defined Market Area to measure audience for media companies, and Genesee County is divided between Buffalo and Rochester. Our traffic in the Buffalo DMA was 64,566 people and for Rochester, 23,785. For the Batavia Daily News, the numbers are 37,694 and 18,702.
While it's gratifying to compare ourselves to our competition and see we're on top, that's not the real point here. As I go around town, I get asked all the time, "How's The Batavian doing?" This is how we're doing.
More than our raw traffic numbers, those comparisons speak volumes about how The Batavian has been accepted and embraced by Genesee County residents.
It also puts our success in context on a larger stage. There are, at best, only a handful of online-only news sites in the United States that have achieved our level of success in readership and local business support. I don't even know of a newspaper in a comparable market that matches The Batavian's online success with its Web site.
Publications that cover media are full of pundits who pontificate on the failure of local news media and are self-assured that the Internet destroys the audience for local news. The numbers for The Batavian demonstrate, I think, how wrong those proclamations are. People do want local news, and if they get it in a style and format they like, they will flock to it.
Billie and I are grateful for your support. We're transplants from Southern California who have come to love Western New York and enjoy our life in Batavia. We're excited about our community's future and prospects for growth and intend to do all we can to be a supporter of an ever more vibrant and successful community.
Of course, we wouldn't be in business without the support of our sponsors, but there again, we need to thank our readers. You all have been most generous in supporting our sponsors. We continually get rave reviews from sponsors who are pleased with the results they get from their ads on The Batavian. Please continue to support the local and regional businesses who so graciously support The Batavian.
On the sponsorship front, we've promoted Lucie Ann Griffis to an expanded sales territory to include Genesee County, so if you have a local business and are ready to experience a great way to market your business, call Lucie at our office, (585) 250-4118.