The New York Times found itself in a Twitter war yesterday after a report that showed that website traffic to the Huffington Post had surpassed that of the oldline media company and displaced it as the top Internet news provider ranked by unique visitors.
The report, from comScore, showed that the Huffington Post clocked in with 35.6 million unique visitors in May compared to 33.6 million for the Times, which set the Internet abuzz at the thought that there had been a seismic shift in how web users obtain their news.
AOL executive Brad Garlinghouse quickly pounced on the news of the report and tweeted, “Comscore: Huffpost passed NYTimes in monthly (US) UV’s. 35.5m vs. 33.6m. Six years to disrupt 100 years. nice work team huffpost!”
But the victory may have been short lived as Forbes blogger Jeff Bercovici noted that according to another Internet traffic monitor, Experian Hitwise, HuffPo benefited tremendously from its merger with AOL in March.
According to Bercovici, prior to the merger HuffPo received less than one percent of its traffic from AOL but since March it has risen dramatically:
AOL.com is now far and away the leading source of referral traffic to Huffpo. Through May, it accounted for more than 30 percent of Huffpo’s referrals, and 32.6 percent in the week that ended June 4.
The Times jumped on this revelation and fired off a tweet of it’s own citing Bercovici’s post.
That in turn led to a tweet from the Huffington Post which read, “Sorry guys, this is just for Huffingtonpost.com. AOL sites not included.”
Then it was the Times’ turn to tweet: “So, are you saying that AOLNews.com does not redirect to HuffingtonPost.com?”
As of this morning HuffPo hasn’t responded to the Times, but then again they may not have to .
In an exchange of tweets with Bercovici, Garlinghouse appears to have admitted that the AOL traffic was indeed responsible for the surge in traffic:
@bgarlinghouse I think you mean 32 years to disrupt 100. Gotta count AOL’s age since that’s what put Huffpo over the top.
@jeffbercovici very fair..
The new executive editor of the Times, Jill Abramson, said that she didn’t want to get into a war with the Huffington Post as her predecessor had done (and lost), but this war of words shows that there will probably be many more battles ahead whether or not Abramson approves.