2008: A Traffic Trader's Report

Joe Bannon
With 2008 now behind us, it's time to give my report on traffic trading patterns over the past year. While I wouldn't call myself "king of traffic trading" I probably trade with more webmasters than most anyone else; my greatest milestone for this year was passing 10,000 registered and active trades.

Although many of you may already be aware of the trends I'll elaborate on, some of you may be entirely in the dark and others may simply have forgotten how important these phenomena are. Most of this information has been culled from the years of traffic logs I've archived since I first started as an adult webmaster.

I've seen a plunge in the number of new thumbnail gallery post sites (TGPs). Many older TGPs have been falling off the map as well. If you're still holding onto your TGP, your days may be numbered unless you adapt and grow. You'll be left behind wondering what happened. More tube sites are trading now as well, especially the bigger ones. The growth of video upload sites has also exploded; as a result of this growth some of these sites needed to upgrade their hosting services in order to keep up.

There were 1.4 billion people who went online in 2008, a number that has continued to grow from year to year. However not all the relevant statistics have increased — the percentage of English-speaking traffic passing through my system has actually fallen. It's not that traffic in the West has decreased; it's only that the East has already surpassed us in sheer numbers and shows no sign of slowing down. If I had one wish for 2009, it would be that more webmasters would get into trading Asian traffic.

General productivity has gone up and a good portion of sites are able to achieve 100 percent or better. It's not like the good old days, but productivity has actually improved in 2008 and I've seen a lot less wasted traffic. We can only hope that's because the consumer is getting smarter.

Improved traffic-trading methods have also helped. Even though I wrote my own system, from time to time I look at the code that others are using and I've noticed that most available trading traffic scripts have been updated. There has also been a decrease in blind link usage, although these links are still popular and able to send more than their share of traffic.

Some other small but notable trends include a general decline in trading cheaters and, my favorite, fewer pop-up ads. However install abuse still climbs.

Another 2008 trend, which may be more relevant than it seems at first glance, is a decline in the quantity of blog-comment spam. When I look at other spam statistics for the end of 2008, I also see a sustained dip in both reported and caught spam. These may seem like small and inconsequential trends but such phenomena can quickly add up.

I've noticed that new webmasters are more educated than ever before. Whatever they don't know they learn quickly, more quickly than the seasoned alumni that I know were able to grasp new skills when they first started out. I only had to explain "productivity" to a novice webmaster once in the course of the entire year. Many of these novices even have advanced skills right out of the gate, and already know how to use PHP and install web applications.

Nothing I've mentioned so far is as important as the number of websites that have stopped sending me traffic all together. Even the first website I started, and later sold, has disappeared.

As a result of these trends, I've been exploring new directions and starting up new projects. At the moment I'm in the minority. If these trends continue, however, I may simply be at the vanguard of traffic traders.