The New York Times is out with a piece today on one of my favorite websites – www.icanhascheezburger.com.

Most of the piece is a retread of what has been said before about the network — the site has grown from essentially nothing, now making a bunch of money from advertising, licensing and merchandising. The other keys to their success, according to the article, are the size of their network, and their ability to quickly discover internet memes and capitalize on them with a blog supporting it.

With this in mind, I thought I’d fire up Compete Pro and take a look at where their traffic comes from — and it turns out to be pretty interesting, and it shows the power of their business model.

To start with, Facebook is the largest referral source with about 18% of all referrals, and Google is second with 9%. To me, this is interesting because it shows the power of social media to drive traffic — particularly to photo and media properties.

Second — take a look at the sites below the top two — you’ll see a common thread: referrals from other sites in their network. This is the real strength of their network — the ability to get consumers to move from one site to another in search of more funny. And it shows that part of the reason they are able to launch websites so quickly is the ability to tap into the network to quickly drive traffic to test an idea.

It may have seemed like a joke site, but icanhascheezburger.com has an innovative approach that makes it a company worth watching now and in the future.

About Damian Roskill:
Damian Roskill is the Managing Director of Marketing at Compete. Before Compete Damian was head of products for a video start-up and has worked in start-ups for most of his career. Damian's career aspiration is to be at one with the advertising universe. Damian can be found on Twitter as Droskill, or connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/droskill