Hosting Rich Media: Understanding the Reach of your Project
Understanding the potential reach of your rich media campaign can help you properly frame budget and technical expectations. Online campaigns are like parties - knowing how many guests you expect makes budgeting and planning much easier. By knowing the potential size of your online audience you can maximize your campaign's ROI (return on investment) and plan for scalability by working with partners if necessary.
Predicting site or project traffic is not an exact science. Marketing people will often quote industry take rates, while content creators or entrepreneurial visionaries will predict massive adoption of their ideas. It helps to understand your target audience as well as the general population of the Internet.
When sizing a rich media project you should keep two factors in mind - how many unique visitors do you expect, and how many concurrent users do you think you will reach? Knowing your expected number of unique visitors can help define your storage needs, revenue projections and other quantity based facets of your business. Knowing the maximum expected number of concurrent visitors (how many will hit your infrastructure at peak times) helps define the actual hardware/delivery requirements. The resources required for a steady stream of visitors (such as a banner ad delivery system or shipping company tracking system) are quite different from an event-based solution such as the online sale of a new music recording or exclusive online interview with a specific starting time.
According to Comscore.com, the total Internet audience for May 2009 was 193,825,000 unique users around the world. (source: http://www.comscore.com/) Use this number to help keep user projections in control. Assuming your marketing blast reaches every single user in the world, a 1% global take rate would generate 1.93 million potential unique visitors to your site.
It often helps to know how many visitors to the more popular Internet properties receive. These numbers often have the effect of a fire hose on the flame of marketing optimism. For example: Google is the current king, and received about 157 million unique visitors for the month of May 2009. Ebay.com, a top ten Internet property, received 72.4 million unique visits in June 2009. Facebook, an extremely popular social media site, received about 70 million visits. Do you think your project will reach more people than ESPN? They enjoyed 20 million visits in May.
Taking this concept further, let's divide that traffic by 30 days to get a monthly average, or 22 days if your site is primarily accessed only during the business week. Google traffic (157M visitors) breaks down to a daily average of 5.23 million unique visits per day.
If we assume that ESPN gets most of its traffic from people at work on weekdays, ESPN gets less than one million unique visitors per day. Of course, this simplification assumes a steady stream of traffic instead of spikes based on demand, but the point is to provide real world examples of how much traffic existing properties generate. If your marketing director projects that you will get one million visitors during the day, keep these numbers in mind. They are absolutely attainable! Ad campaigns can generate millions of visits over a day or two, just make sure you work with a provider or partner that can help plan for and react to such a situation.
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