MJ or Bust: Millions Hit Web to Learn of the Loss of Their "King of Pop"

They say things come in threes, but I don’t think anyone expected the final glove to fall with such shocking news. Last week’s trio of celebrity death’s started with TV Icon, Ed McMahon (86), Super Model, Farrah Fawcett (62), and ended with the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson (51). Sure, the passing of Mr. McMahon and Ms. Fawcett was given main stream media attention. However, MJ’s death caused an online traffic frenzy of record breaking proportions.

How many people hit the web to get the skinny on MJ? Millions would be a conservative estimate. In fact, Yahoo! News set an all time record of 16.4 million UVs (unique visitors) on Thursday. Celebrity gossip site, tmz.com, received so much traffic that their servers reportedly crashed multiple times. Google was also a victim as the New York Post reported that Google News had to actually block the term "Michael Jackson" to prevent their site from crashing.

Using Compete’s daily online traffic metrics, reach and attention, we’re able to get a real sense of just how many online users in the US were surfing celebrity gossip sites to get their MJ updates.

Reach lets us to see what percentage of U.S. Internet users online visited a particular website on a particular day. Tmz.com, who broke the story of MJ’s death, reached 1.9% of the total US online population on 6/25. That’s a 438% increase from 6/24 and a 527% increase year over year. Other celebrity news sites experienced the same trend — eonline.com (up 213% to 1.3% of total US traffic), people.com (up 70% to .54% of total US traffic), perezhilton.com (up 28% to .45% of total US traffic), and ew.com (up 49% to .21% of total US traffic). These five sites alone reached 4.42% of all U.S. Internet users online.

Attention is a metric that considers the collective time all U.S. Internet users spend online and calculates what percentage of that time was spent on a given website on a particular day. Once again, tmz.com showed the greatest increase on 6/25, up 478% over the day before and 272% year over year to .037% of all time spent online. However, people.com garnered the most attention of all the celebrity sites on that day with .053% of total time spent online (up 71% from 6/24 and 50% year over year). The other celebrity sites also showed increases – eonline.com (up 175% to .032% of total US traffic), perezhilton.com (up 28% to .45% of total US traffic), and ew.com (up 49% to .21% of total US traffic).

Although some may credit MJ’s never-ending fame to his character flaws ridden with tabloid headlines, his musical career was undoubtedly flooded with accomplishments — 2 time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 13 time Grammy Award winner, and over 750 million records sold worldwide to name a few. The polarizing effect of his personal life’s blunders and undeniable talent obviously kept audiences captivated and will continue to captivate them for years to come. His passing even added another notch to his belt — "king of the Internet""¦ for a day.

About Drew Fortin:
Drew is responsible for strategy and execution of marketing initiatives for Compete.com, including affiliate, blog, email, lead generation, paid search, and social media. Before Compete, Drew worked for office supply giant, Staples, Inc. where he had the opportunity to manage multiple online marketing channels for Staples.com, including affiliate, SEO/SEM, and comparison shopping engines. Follow Drew on Twitter or link him on LinkedIn.