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The Market Share Match: Paul Beats Colbert but O'Reilly is King

BY Joshua Levy | Tuesday, October 23 2007

Ever since Stephen Colbert announced his run for president, I’ve been keeping an eye out for his web strategy. After all, this is the guy that mobilized 17,231,724 people to go online and vote to name a Hungarian bridge after him.

He still hasn’t come up with anything fun (yet), but an interesting report from Hitwise, the online “competitive intelligence” company that’s been tracking the candidates’ online market share (see our charts) shows that Colbert’s site is the fourth most-visited site among the candidates. According to their data, he’s receiving more site traffic than Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John Edwards, or Mitt Romney.

It hasn’t always been this way - U.S. traffic to the site increased 245% in the last week (he announced on October 16th).

But wait, isn’t Colbert also a (faux) talk show host? Things get interesting when we add other political hosts to the mix:

When the main sites for Bill O’Reilly, Colbert, Michael Moore, and Bill Maher are mixed in with the presidential sites, O’Reilly comes out on top, with 20.41% of the market share, about 4% higher than Ron Paul, 8% higher than Barack Obama, and a whopping 12% higher than Hillary Clinton.

That’s right, Bill O’Reilly’s homepage gets more traffic than any presidential site.

So should Bill O’Reilly run for president? Not if he wants to keep his web traffic. O’Reilly and Colbert are on cable television nightly; they get their audience because they’re celebrities who talk about politics. Entertainment will always trump politics for market share.

As we write and write and write about the presidential candidates, we can forget that a large chunk of the American public doesn’t find it fun to go to a presidential candidate’s site, or to check out their Facebook profile. It is fun, though, to read headlines like “Redford calls Romney a ‘faceless, methodic jerk’” on O’Reilly’s home page, or to see a button on Colbert’s site that says, “Click here for the religionizer!