Take Your Virtual Seats — Oprah Is Ready To Begin Class

For those of us who spend our careers immersed in digital marketing and all things "online," a live webcast doesn’t seem like big news. So when Oprah announced a live web event as part of her book club it didn’t seem like a huge deal to me (admittedly, I’m not one of her regular fans). What happened may surprise you. It surprised me!

The number of visitors to Oprah.com topped five million in February, making her site one of the top 225 ranked sites in the United States. To put this in perspective, more people went to check out Oprah.com in February than the popular NASCAR, eHarmony, Fidelity, Barnes and Noble or Walgreens sites.

Even for Oprah, more than five million monthly visitors represented large month-over-month and year-over-year growth. The site traffic jumped 69 percent from January 2008 and was more than 50% above its February 2007 level. So what contributed to these gains? Was the live web event featuring the bestselling author Eckhart Tolle a factor? The answer to that question is YES.

  • Visitors to Oprah.com held steady between 800,000 and 1,000,000 per week in January. Then on January 30, "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle was named to Oprah’s Book Club selection. In February traffic to the site increased dramatically following the selection and announcement of a live web event, topping 2 million per week more than once.
  • Buoyed by the publicity, traffic to Eckhart’s site surged in February to more than 70,000 the week prior to the first class. Quite a jump from a scant 2,000 people per week at the beginning of the year!
  • From February 24 through March 1, additional data reveals that approximately 50% of the 1.7 million Oprah.com visitors went to the Live Web Event Registration page.

After the first class, more than 300,000 people showed interest in (re)watching the webcast. Reportedly, demand was so high for the initial event however, that some people had difficulty logging in. This trouble may have influenced post-event interest.

The appeal of the live web event becomes even more evident when we take a daily view. The total time people spent on Oprah.com as a percentage of the total time spent online by all U.S. internet users more than doubled on the night of the first live event.

Oprah’s live event with author Eckhart Tolle is a series of 10 weekly classes. Stay tuned to see if Oprah’s "students" remain interested or if they become drop-outs as the class wears on. A sneak peak at Compete’s daily Attention metric through March 10 (the date of the second class) reveals that interest may have waned quickly, and then bumped up again slight for the second session.

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