Two disturbing things happened last weekend: the Butler Bulldogs served the Florida Gators with an overtime upset to get to the Final Four in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, and an Egyptian cobra escaped from the Bronx Zoo in New York. How are these seemingly random events related, beyond the fact that they happened around the same date? They both also caused huge spikes in daily reach to Butler.edu and BronxZoo.com, respectively.
While there was a big increase in daily reach for both sites, there are some obvious differences, and that’s where it starts to get interesting.
It’s clear from the numbers that although both graphs show enormous increases in daily reach over a short period of time, Butler’s overall reach is much higher. Since daily reach is the percentage of all of the active Internet users in the U.S. that visit the site, Butler’s higher reach can probably be attributed to the fact that the NCAA basketball tournament is a nationally televised event, and many more people are following it; whereas the Bronx Zoo is a place you can really only experience if you happen to be in New York City.
Outside of the March Madness season, however, in terms of unique visitors, things look a lot different:
You can see a surge in traffic for Butler in March 2010 that will undoubtedly be repeated this year, but for the rest of the year, Butler University and the Bronx Zoo see remarkably similar amounts of traffic, with the Zoo beating out Butler for most of the year.
The other interesting thing to note is that while Butler’s spike in daily reach was really only for the day of the game, the increase seen by BronxZoo.com was more incremental and still appears to be increasing every day. Even though the Butler upset was big news in the world of sports, it seems as though novelty news (like an escaped cobra) may be a better driver of reach in the long term, especially since it doesn’t look like the snake is going to be caught any time soon.
Then again, the increase in daily reach for the Bronx Zoo could be attributed, at least in part, to the anonymous Twitter account that tweets from the perspective of the missing cobra. Most of the tweets from the snake are hilarious, and the account has accumulated over 120,000 followers as of this writing. I’m sure some curious folks have made their way to BronxZoo.com after seeing the Twitter account.
It will be interesting to follow the daily reach trends on both Butler.edu and BronxZoo.com as the Bulldogs move to the Final Four and the elusive cobra remains at large.
Jared is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Millward Brown Digital. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.