Opinion

Mumbrella Asia turns two. We’ve doubled our audience and are still growing

Robin HicksTwo years ago today Mumbrella launched in Asia. Editor Robin Hicks reflects on the last 24 months and shares progress.

It’s been a big week for Mumbrella.

On Monday, we shared the shortlist for our first Mumbrella Asia Awards. And we were delighted to see so many big agency names, and independent voices, on the list.

And today I can share the progress we’ve made two years on.

When I wrote about our first birthday in April last year, the glass was half empty. But now, while the glass isn’t spiling yet, it’s certainly filling up.

First, a snapshot of our traffic growth story in one chart. This Google Analytics comparison shows our month-to-month user traffic. The last 12 months in blue, the previous 12 months to that in orange.

Mumbrella Asia traffic, 2014 V 2015

Three things show up, all of them positive.

Across the board, the number of users is up, roughly double on the year before.

Year on year, the number of sessions is up 102 per cent, users 101 per cent and page views 96 per cent.

Second, we’ve just had our best ever month. March saw well over 100,000 unique users for the month.

And it seems, we have a bit of momentum.

People are coming back to the site, and Mumbrella Asia is starting to feel like a community.

There are more readers returning this year than last – 29 per cent of site users were returning visitors in our first year, 31 per cent in the second.

We are becoming more of a place for a discussion and debate than just a trade news site. We received 894 comments (that were publishable) in our first year. In the second year, with a total of 4,406 posts published, we received 3,224 comments.

We didn’t publish a further 1,686, mostly for legal reasons.

A downside is that some of the comments we are getting are unhelpfully critical of work or individuals, or just plain mean. We want to ensure the conversation remains a sensible debate.

While we can do that to a certain extent on the site with our comment moderation policy, what we can’t control are the conversations that go on in social media. Of the 1.1m or so sessions since the beginning, just under a third came via social referral; a quarter through Facebook, smaller percentages from Twitter and LinkedIn.

Some of these conversations will be taken offline next month, when we host our first Mumbrella Question Time followed by the Mumbrella Asia Awards in Singapore. If you have a question for our panel of agency bosses, let me know – I’d love to see you there. You can also wish me happy second birthday if you like.

What sort of stories are getting traffic?

Our best-read articles reflect what Mumbrella should really be all about: honest criticism, topical industry issues that start a debate and, on occasion, stories that no one else will touch.

Our most read story was generated by our own readers at the start of this year, who pointed out in the comment thread of a piece about Singtel’s rebrand that the grammar of the new slogan ‘Let’s make everyday better’ was suspect. This prompted a debate less about who was at fault for the dodgy language than whether Singtel was genuine in its promise to improve its customer service.

The second most-read story was on a perennially thorny topic in the advertising world – clients taking agencies for a ride in pitches. Our piece about a posh shopping mall’s nine-agency pitch “farce” was a local Singapore story, but it was an issue that clearly hit home for agencies all over the region.

The third came just last month, just before the death of Lee Kuan Yew. We wondered what the plan was for advertisers. Would ads be pulled off air on the day he passed away? For how long would the ad blackout last? Would advertisers be able to run tribute ads for Singapore’s founding father to run in the Straits Times? They were legitimate but sensitive questions that agencies and advertisers were asking. So we asked too.

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Five out of our top ten stories yet came in our second year, two of those from the last month.

The other most-read stories are about alleged death through overwork, a Singapore Tourism ad so bad it went viral, the lamest posts of citizen journalism site Stomp and an account of self censorship from a Singaporean newspaper journalist.

As most of our biggest stories have been about Singapore, our readership has shifted; 38 per cent of our traffic in our first year was from Singapore, now more than half of it is.

Mumbrella Asia's top traffic sources

Mumbrella Asia’s top traffic sources

We could and should cover other markets in more depth, particularly where the rest of our readers are; (besides the US, the UK and Australia, which we don’t cover) Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and China.

But for now, Singapore is increasingly where the big stories in media and marketing are, and so it is probably no bad thing that most of our readers are here too. Indeed, I made the move myself from Hong Kong, earlier in the year.

Though it might not be the party capital of the world, Singapore is not a dull place to be a journalist.

Robin Hicks

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