Watching Golf and the Traffic Numbers

Dang, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. yesterday this site turned into a ghost town. You could see tumbleweeds rolling through the traffic monitors.

Of course you know why. Tiger, Tiger, burning bright .... again. Most of the television/Internet connected world, including this newsroom, was watching him win. Sorry Rocco. (Check out SportsBiz for more on that).

Traffic is the life blood of any news site. Predicting when it will be up and down, and why, is a major past time for me and other Net executives.

Our main driver is, obviously, the market. I've often tied it to volume ... the more trades on a given day, the more traffic on the site. In fact, earlier in my career, I did some regression analysis on Nasdaq volume and traffic on the business news site I was working for at the time. They positively correlated more than half the time.

Here at CNBC one of the research guys turned me on to some further analysis done by some of his cohorts. They looked at volume, like me, but also at volatility (the difference between intraday high and low) and price change (the difference between the open and close). After running the numbers in a much more thorough fashion than I could ever hope to achieve, they found volatility was more closely tied to traffic than the other two.

Now that I write that out, it's kind of a "well, duh" conclusion. But it makes us traffic-geeks intrigued. There is a big problem, though. You can't really predict market volume and volatility with certainty either. Sigh. And correlation isn't necessarily causation. Double sigh.

So you still can't predict traffic perfectly. But a general conclusion would be to hope for volatile markets ... it means for traffic. And sure, traffic spikes on hair-raising days.

But I have a gut instinct that stable, steady traffic is fed better by a slow bull market. More investors periodically monitoring growth is better in the long run than a few panicked investors madly checking on prices. At least I think that's the case; I haven't got any numbers to back it up, yet.

In the meantime, summer will be slow. That whole "sell in May and go away" thing. And golf tournaments.