Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Stats: I'll Show You Mine; Will You Show Me Yours?

The mission of Pharma BlogosphereTM, believe it or not, is to promote the rising luminaries of our little sphere of influence. By writing about and linking to blogs in this sphere, I believe I have helped bring attention to our little world and increase the number of readers for each and every one of us.

I think I have some evidence to back that statement. The evidence resides in site statistics; namely number of visitors and page views.

This is a very touchy subject because often metrics are a closely-held asset, especially that "etc." stuff (IP addresses of site visitors, referring pages, etc.). As far as personally-identifiable metrics like IP addresses, a few bloggers -- notably Peter Rost -- are open about their privacy policies. Others, myself included, have not gotten around to making those policies public. It's not that we are hiding anything, we've just been lazy or, more likely, blogging is so new that we've never thought about some of these things. A few of us don't even collect the sort of information for which policies are necessary. So don't take this as a personal condemnation. Just a wake up call.

But I really want to talk about de-identified or aggregate visitor data, specifically number of visitors and page views.

Bloggers use a number of different applications to measure these metrics, which means there is no clear standard and it is not possible to compare one blog's metrics with another's; no statistically accurate way, that is. So, anything I say here is not meant to accurately compare one blog with another (despite the provocative title of this post, which was meant to grab your attention more than to challenge you).

Rather, I'd like to reveal some metrics in the realm of pharma blogging to see how we compare to other blogging topic areas, or to measure our progress over time. I have had a few people ask me if the numbers they are getting are average for a blog in this sphere or maybe above or below average. Of course, I have no way of knowing, but by revealing what I know about my blog (Pharma Marketing Blog) and what's public from other blogs in this sphere, I hope newbies can better measure their progress and popularity.

I will look at the metrics of three different blogs in the Pharma Blogosphere: Pharma Marketing Blog, The Health Care Blog (THCB) and Eye On FDA.

Visitors
Mark Senak at Eye On FDA uses a service called eXTReMe Tracking. From what I can see by clicking on the stats logo on the blog, Eye On FDA averages 3,228 unique visitors per month, or 5,412 visitors in April, which compares to THCB's 30,000 and Pharma Marketing Blog's 18,000 unique visits per month.

The latter two blogs use Site Meter, which defines a "visit" as a series of page views by one person with no more than 30 minutes in between page views. I am not sure how eXTReMe defines unique visitor and how this relates to Site Meter's unique visits.

Page Views
Last month (April 2007), THCB logged approximately 52,000 page views, whereas Pharma Marketing Blog logged about 31,000 page views. I can't figure out how to get Eye on FDA page view data from the publicly available stats link provided.

I have always compared my stats to THCB's stats because this is a great blog in a field much larger than pharmaceutical marketing, which is what I focus on. Last year, I was happy that Pharma Marketing Blog registered one-third (33%) the number of visitors that THCB was getting at the time. Today, that figure is closer to 60%!

I attribute this to the phenomenon of "a rising tide floats all ships" -- that is, as the number of bloggers in the Pharma Blogosphere sea has increased, and as we link to one another and get tracked by other sites like Cafe Pharma and PharmaCentral PageFlakes, that sea level will continue to rise and float all of us even higher! At least I hope so.

Stats For Pharma Marketing Blog
Let's get back to the evidence. The following chart was captured directly from the Site Meter stats page for Pharma Marketing Blog. It shows visits (yellow) and page views (red) per month for the last 12 months. The arrow indicates when I started the Pharma Blogosphere blog. Looks like the rising tide floated my boat! Did it float yours too?

# of Posts
But rising visitor stats is not just due to the fact that more attention is being paid these days to pharma bloggers. I have also made more posts per month than I did last year as the following chart shows.


I now average about 21 posts per month, which is more than many other pharma blogs but much less than others, especially Pharmalot, PharmaGossip, etc. However, my postings tend to be lengthier and more in-depth than others -- I average about 800 words per post! At that rate, I estimate that I am writing over 200,000 words per year or over 300 pages! That's a book!

# of Comments
One of the distinguishing feature of blogging is the comments that people can make and thereby participate in the discussion. That discussion is very important to me. I learn from other people's comments and that helps me create a more useful blog and newsletter for my subscribers.

Between January and April of this year, I have received approximately 3,200 comments. That's about 2-3 comments per post! Perhaps not a lot by general blog standards, but pretty good for this small sphere of influence.

OK, I've showed you my stats and I used a verifiable 3rd-party chart or data that anyone can collect from my blog. So, no smoke and mirrors. I'd be interested in learning how other blogs in this space are doing stat-wise.

Inquiring minds want to know.

2 comments:

Dr. BK said...

Dear John,

Do you think you can tell us, how to look at the URL that view your page? And the other stats you mention?

Thanks so much in advance.

BK

John Mack said...

BK,

Thanks for your comment.

I decided not to make my stats public at the click of a button. From time to time, I will notify my visitors and advertisers what the latest metrics are, but I see no need for continuous full disclosure, nor did I suggest anyone else do it. Just an occasional snap shot would be helpful.

We can declare "Pharma Blogger Metrics Week" every 2nd week of May!

John