Editor’s note: The below information is a breakdown of the data for our website traffic, demographics, posts, obituaries, shows, and more. We do this every year during the first week of January; partly for transparency, and partly because it’s always kinda fun to look back on the year. I'm not entirely sure why other news outlets don't share their numbers with their readers (though, I do have a couple of guesses on that) but it's something we do every year. Enjoy!
When we started DrydenWire.com in the fall of 2015, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers and visitors to our website. I still recall a day in January of 2016, just 4 months after we launched, how excited I was that we had an article that went “viral” (at least that’s what I called it back then) which resulted in our website having over 500 Pageviews that day. I remember thinking how great it would be — however unlikely — if we could average 500 Pageviews per day, every day! I remember thinking that there was no way that would be possible or even realistic because that would be over 180,000 Pageviews per year! That was a number I thought was unattainable. “Not a chance,” I thought.
Fast forward 7 years. For the 4th consecutive year, DrydenWire.com has topped 5,000,000 Pageviews (or over 14,000 per day)! What a trip, man. Not too shabby for a rural digital news outlet. In fact, earlier in 2022, Wisconsin Right Now reported that DrydenWire was the most read independent digital news outlet in the entire state of Wisconsin.
Before we hit you with the numbers, here is a quick thing on Pageviews:
Pageviews are not the holy grail of website metrics (far from it) but it is one that is easily trackable, easily explainable, and can be used to gauge your traffic vs another. A Pageview is defined as a view of a page on a website. If a User clicks reload after reaching the page, this is counted as an additional Pageview. If a user navigates to a different page and then returns to the original page, a second Pageview is recorded as well.
To better help you understand the other metrics, here is the quick 411 on Users, Sessions, and Unique Pageviews:
There are many other metrics that we track other than Pageviews, including Users, Unique Pageviews, and Sessions. Each means something different and, if you are familiar with Google Analytics, you know it can be a rabbit hole. For quick reference, a user is an individual person who has come to our website whereas a Session represents one of those visits to out site. So, a person could come once or many times, and that wouldn’t increment the ‘User’ count but would increase the number of Sessions. Think of Users as the number of Unique Visitors. Once they visit once, they will not be counted again unless they are visiting on a new device or have cleared their cookies. Sessions are the number of visits our site has, from both new and returning Users. A Unique Pageview represents the number of Sessions during which that page was viewed one or more times.
2022 Yearly Totals
- Users: 1,455,196
- Sessions: 2,862,175
- U/Pageviews: 4,360,348
- Pageviews: 5,185,040
2022 Month Average
- Users: 121,266
- Sessions: 238,515
- U/Pageviews: 363,362
- Pageviews: 432,087
Now, if you’re really curious, below is a breakdown of each month along with notes that follow regarding our 3 "worst" months and our 3 "best" months.
Note: you can scroll past this part to get to the next section if this isn't you're flavor and just want more bullet points.
The cells in RED show the 3 months with our lowest total of users. The cells in GREEN show the 3 months with our highest total of users. Below is a quick recap of those 6 months:
- February: Although February does have the fewest days of all the months (which certainly played a small part in the lower numbers), the reality is we just didn’t have as many “big” stories to drive up those numbers. Don’t kid yourself, though, our February numbers may be low by our standards but if any other news site (or any website for that matter) in our area had those numbers they would be tickled pink. I wouldn’t be surprised if our February “low” numbers would be close to the yearly totals for others. Still, for us, it’s low. It is what it is. They can’t all be great months.
- April: April saw our highest amount of Users on our website. However, many of those numbers (including nearly 40,000 pageviews) came from one random article (more on that further down the page), so when we remove the tracking metrics from that one post, it actually puts April as a great month, but not our #1 month.
- August: Yep, so this is when we launched our "Insider" (where readers need to have a subscription to read certain article posts). We didn't launch it until a little over halfway through the month, and we figured we would take a hit and we did. Still good, but again, low for us. We anticipated a 10-15% dip with the launch, so it was expected. When you give something away for free for 7 years, combined with people not liking change in general, it was a storm that we were just going to have to weather.
- September: We were still feeling the effects of our August launch of our "Insider." I wasn't overly concerned. That said, two straight months of our lowest numbers of the year? Eeek. But I just kept reminding myself that this is going to be a process and that it isn't a 30-day or even 3-month plan, it's a 3-year plan. OK, I guess I was a little concerned. Thankfully we had a good October and we bounced back so that was a very welcomed relief.
- November: November showed that our bounce-back month of October wasn't a fluke. We saw our 3rd highest User totals for any month of the year. "Insider" memberships also started to increase a bit more as readers began to see the value. Pageviews remained lower (due to the "Insider"), but seeing our Users number that high was excellent.
- December: We capped off our year with our 2nd highest total number of Users for any month in 2022. What a way to end it. We also noticed more questions of "how do I sign up for the 'Insider'" as opposed to the previous months of "why would (or should) I sign up for this?" As it relates to our website traffic, December was a wonderful month to end the year and really provided a lot of enthusiasm for us heading into 2023.
I always like to ask people which demographic they think is higher for DrydenWire: 18-24 or 65 and over. 9 times out of 10 they pick 18-24. People think that because we are a digital media outlet that focuses on mobile layouts and the use of social media that it must just be for "younger" people. Which demographic are you most surprised by?
For the 7th straight year, we have more female viewers than male. However, this (over the years) has slowly been trending to 50/50. Honestly? I have no idea why.
Mobile remains 3 out of 4 people use a mobile device to view our content (not much change from previous years). This year we did see an increase in Desktop/Laptop users (which is my preferred way to view DrydenWire as well).
- Mobile: 76%
- Desktop: 20%
- Tablet: 4%
We published over 2,000 posts this year. We are hoping to have this number closer to 2,500 in 2023. After all, this is ultimately what drives 80% percent of our traffic.
- Year Total: 2,160
- Average Per Month: 180
- Average Per Week: 42
We post obituaries for free on DrydenWire for our six-county coverage area. In fact, we are the only media outlet in northwest Wisconsin that not only doesn’t charge a person or family a fee to post an obituary but also doesn't charge our readers to view the obituaries. We're pretty happy about that.
- Year Total: 1,536
- Average Per Month: 128
- Average Per Week: 30
Fun fact: Our Obituaries home page is our second most frequented page on our website. In 2022, the home page (not including each obituary themselves) saw over 500,000 Pageviews (that’s over 1,300 per day!)
Article Posts & Obituaries Combined
In total between article posts and obituaries, we published 3,696 posts in 2022. That divides out to an average of 71 posts published every week.
- Year Total: 3,696
- Average Per Month: 308
- Average Per Week: 71
Can you imagine if we had a weekly newspaper? Sure it would be thick but it would cost us a fortune in ink and paper (even without including our advertisers or transcripts from our live shows) so we'd have to charge a ridiculously high amount per issue. That's a hard pass. We'll stick with digital.
Top 3 Most-Viewed Articles
99 out of 100 times I can predict how a story will go (after publishing nearly 20,000 posts over 7 years you learn a thing or two). As I mentioned above in the April breakdown, every once in a while a random article post gets tons of traffic that were not expected. Our third most-viewed article of the year was that random article (which was a news release from the DNR). The second most-viewed was an "Insider" article (nice to see) from just this path month in December. The most-viewed, however, was again a seemingly random news release (this time from DATCP). Go figure.
- ALERT: Your Friend is Not Pitching Grant Scams on Facebook (66,643 viewed)
- Criminal Charges Filed In Burnett County Against Contractor (44,570 viewed)
- DNR Announces Changes To Northern Wisconsin Walleye Regulations For 2022 Fishing Season (36,165 viewed)
Note: This doesn’t include weekly article posts like Weekly Jail Bookings Reports, Disposition Reports, Morning Headlines, etc.
2022 saw the most shows we have ever done in 1 year - by far! We averaged 10 shows per month (which, quite frankly, was exhausting).
- Total Shows: 120
- Live Shows: 100
- Recorded Shows: 20
The 20 recorded shows were from the 20-part series "The Brian Cole Story". We recorded them as if they were live, but aired them unedited on twenty straight Sundays.
- 45 ‘Positive Tuesday w/ Ben & Fitzy’ (weekly Tuesday show with myself and Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald)
- 12 ‘Breakfast w/ Tiffany’ (a monthly show featuring Congressman Tom Tiffany)
Frequent guests on our shows include former WI State Senator, Patty Schachtner; former WI State Assembly Rep. Adam Jarchow, former WI State Assembly Rep. (and now current Senator), Romaine Quinn; Spooner Health CEO, Mike Schafer; just to name a few that I'm pretty sure I'm contractually obligated to state.
The rest of the shows were mostly candidates running for election (re-election). There are too many to name here, but a playlist of those can be found here.
Most of our advertising partners have been with us for at least two years with many going back as far as 2016. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to grow DrydenWire into what it is today. Although we do offer advertising for the short term, the following advertisers have been with us for years and we want to give them a special shout-out.
- Spooner Health
- Indianhead Credit Union
- River Street Dental
- Burnett Medical Center
- Bush & Gilles Furniture
- Cora Physical Therapy
- Dan King Agencys
- Frey Financial
- Heartwood Journeys
- Ignite Dispensary
- Industrial Safety
- Jarchow Law
- Miracle at Big Rock
- Northlakes Community Clinic
- Northwood Technical College
- Professional Exteriors & Interiors
- Romaine Quinn (Real Estate Solutions)
- Schmitz’s Economart
- Spooner Block Party
- The Body Shop (Fitness Centers)
- Tim Reedy (State Farm Agent)
That's A Wrap
Of course, all these numbers are not just numbers on a page, they represent YOU, our readers, viewers, and followers. The most important metrics of all are the metrics that Google Analytics cannot track: your kindness, support, and encouragement that you continue to show us each and every day. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope we have earned your respect and your trust over the years (and have had a few laughs along the way). Bringing you the news in 2022 was an honor and a privilege.
Yes, 2022 was a good year and it's been fun looking back. Now it's time to turn our attention to 2023 to make this an even better year.