It's pretty amusing watching everyone misinterpret the recently released Hitwise data. Claims of "MySpace Bigger than Yahoo!" sure make for good headlines, but only if "good" means "attention grabbing" not "based in reality."

I was mildly alarmed when I first heard the noise but spent a few minutes looking into it and now understand a bit more of what's going on.

Let's review the situation, shall we?

It's hard to blame people for jumping to the wrong conclusions. On their blog post the wise folks at Hitwise managed to make this as confusing as possible for someone who isn't reading carefully (you know, skimming).

How'd they do that?

  1. They used a headline which implied that MySpace is the biggest site on the web. But one you start reading the text, you find that they're comparing to "Yahoo! Mail." Seriously. So what's a site? A domain name? What about international versions?
  2. They included a completely unrelated graph that shows how compares with over time. (I wonder if they run the numbers without the www prefix?)
  3. They further confuse things by providing a table of search referral terms that constitute what we call "navigational queries" to illustrate... something. But does that make any sense? Why would a Yahoo! user use a search to find Yahoo? Or a Google user use Google to find Google?

To recap: there are three useless apples vs. oranges comparisons (MySpace and Yahoo! Mail, MySpace and Google, and the search terms) that really don't help to support their claim very well.

Can someone please explain to me how this has anything to do with Yahoo?

It seems to confirm what we all knew already: MySpace is growing like a weed. Duh. But "bigger" than Yahoo? Not by a long shot. Don't make me dig up user statistics, time spent on site, and all that other stuff.

This feels a lot like Hitwise trading their credibility for some cheap press headlines. I guess it's working.

[And no, this is me bitching, not an official Yahoo! statement. I can get you one of those if you'd really like...]

Posted by jzawodn at July 12, 2006 01:21 PM

Reader Comments
# JB said:


I agree with all of your points above. As flawed as it may be, however, the Hitwise press release does seem to beg a more interesting question: to what extent is the growth of MySpace hurting more established web properties like Yahoo, MSN, and AOL?

While i have not seen data that is relevant to this specific question, i would be surprised if MySpace is not "eating into Yahoo's growth" to some extent, esp in younger age groups (eg, 18-24).

Do you have a point of view here?


on July 12, 2006 02:01 PM
# Cristian Mezei said:

>> Why would a Yahoo! user use a search to find Yahoo? Or a Google user use Google to find Google?

You would be amazed to know how many people use those terms.

Just a small comparison :

As you can see Google is really searched in Google.

You can bet that Yahoo is searched in Yahoo.

As for the headlines: Myspace beeing larger than Yahoo ? That's crap man. It's impossible.

Im ean just compare some Alexa (we all know Alexa is fairly irrelevant because not everyone has the toolbar, or add-ons that send data to Alexa but still):

From 20.000 reach to 300.000 reach... It's a god damn long way.

on July 12, 2006 02:04 PM
# TJ Mahony said:

I work at Compete, Inc and last week we introduced a free analytics tool which provides normalized 'people projections' (ie. unique visitors) and rankings.

The issue with Hitwise's Yahoo vs MySpace analysis - beyond mixing and matching categorization - is that they rely on aggregated raw pageviews to determine rankings - science and normalization tends to be void from the equation. Compete metrics provide a view into the actual population of users, which provides an alternative view on this story. Based on Compete metrics MySpace is only ranked #9 on the internet.

*It is worth noting Compete metrics are representative of the US population and not the international population.

An associate of mine is putting together Compete's analysis on Yahoo vs. MySpace and will post his findings in the next 24 hours on our blog (


on July 12, 2006 02:40 PM
# pmp said:

Recent changes to the Mail UI make it less pageview-oriented.
So it makes sense that the Y!Mail numbers would drop significantly. As the title says: Apples and Oranges.

on July 12, 2006 02:51 PM
# Andy Beal said:

Wouldn't it be more useful to see how compares to - exclude all subdomains, after all we're trying to find out what is the single most visited domain. If we start adding all sub-domains, then we start blurring the lines.

on July 12, 2006 02:59 PM
# Ben Graham said:

I have a lot of familiarity with Hitwise's services, as I am a customer of theirs. I think your attack on Bill's blog entry is not really fair, and you could have contacted them to get some detail before posting this.

Hitwise's data is not perfect, but it is the largest sample available anywhere. They calculate information based on visits, not page views, so pmp's comment is not relevant here, nor is time spent on site. For very large sites their data is very accurate, and I would tend to believe them. Bill has always shown himself to be trustworthy in these cases.

Hitwise aggregates subdomains for most sites, although for sites which are specifically different they do seperate them ( is reported seperately from, as is

I can't comment on why Bill decided to talk about MySpace versus Yahoo, but use a chart that compared it with Google. Still, I would take his information to be correct, as they are the best source out there that we've found.

Feel free to post user statistics, though. I'm sure we'd all love to see them. ;)

on July 12, 2006 04:24 PM
# Grant Hutchins said:

That's it! I'm tired of you Yahoo! guys claiming to have such an important web presence! I'll spend all my time on completely unrelated domain names like and so they too can defeat this thing. ;)

on July 12, 2006 06:09 PM
# Webmetricsguru said:

Honestly, I noticed the Yahoo Mail thing too - it raised a yellow flag - but I did not actually question it - maybe I should have when I posted yesterday on MySpace Moves Into #1 Position for all Internet Sites.

on July 12, 2006 09:16 PM
# rxbbx said:

Important is that such hype as MySpace gets allready headlines in beating Yahoo. When you look at Christains Alexa graph everyone knows that it will take some time, but how long will it take. I did not take myspace seriously in the beginning but where will it end.

on July 13, 2006 09:52 AM
# TJ Mahony said:

Compete has just posted it's take on the MySpace vs. Yahoo controversy.
[Edit: permalink is]

You will find that Yahoo dominates MySpace in-terms of unique visitors, but was surpassed in January in-terms of page views. See our blog to find trended metrics of both ranking views.


on July 13, 2006 02:31 PM
# Google Hater said:

I hate Google and all those Google fans, get outta here. They have just way too much dominance and from a technology standpoint, they just have too many flaws that they cannot easily correct. Every 3 months they go over through this ejaculatory frenzy that leaves all webmasters covered in the dirty spil. Time to grow up Google and I guess you should probably get outta this online world. The world is a better place without you. Leave us alone for Christ sakes. And Matt Cutts, you dorky prick, just can't tolerate somebody saying the truth about your lame ass system that you delete the comments posted by me? Grow up you Matt Cutts and get your Cuttletts off the burner, they are already burnt out.

I think that Gmail is the worst email system I have ever seen in my life. Where do these people get the lousy ideas from? I understand you provide the largest space for emails, but I gotta tell you the truth, no one needs that much space, ok?

Jeremy, my man, I love you. I love reading each and every pages of your High Performance MySQL book. You are such an inspiration to guys like me who believe in getting the best performance out of the systems. I hope you keep providing inspirations and not useless things like "Things I never do". Who cares what you like or what you don't like, Matt Cutts? Matt's getting just entirely too much pointless attention these days.

I hope you don't delete my post--my last evil nightmare.

on July 13, 2006 05:21 PM
# Atle Veka said:

I think Ben Graham mean to say:

"I have a lot of familiarity with Hitwise's services, as I am an employee of Hitwise."

on July 14, 2006 06:00 AM
# Rolex Replica said:

It is a real good thing! How you think, to what can draw a conclusion from this?

on November 19, 2006 01:40 PM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.