According to Compete.com, AOL had 45.5 million unique visitors last month, down slightly from 47.9 million in May 2009 – and a serious drop-off from January, when it saw 55.8 million. Yahoo, at 134.1 million, was up slightly over May 2009, but MSN 65.6 million slid 12 percent versus the same month last year.
Page views, meaning the number of pages viewed by each individual user, have fallen significantly for each of the big three: AOL -32 percent, Yahoo -28 percent and MSN -30 percent all posted steep declines in May.
But if you’re an AOL or Yahoo! executive, here’s the statistic that is most worrisome: Average time spent on portal websites is down 21.7 percent over the last year, with users spending on average six and a half minutes before scurrying off somewhere else.
“The big word in digital media for the last year has been engagement,” said Betsy Morgan, former chief executive at the Huffington Post, now a senior consultant. “No more drive-by traffic.”
The problem with a 1990’s “stickiness” approach is that stickiness doesn’t make money. For example, YouTube is sticky. Google is teflon. Which makes more money? Facebook has the same issue – very sticky, much less revenue generation.
The reality is this: targeted online action (one example is a search) makes money. Stickiness is old hat … unless you’re an online game like Farmville.
AOL and Yahoo? Forget it.