A whole new scoop on Scoop, and it’s all bad

When you become “a person of interest” to the Whaleoil team, we crawl up your business with a fine tooth comb.  Ok, that’s awful, but you know what I’m getting at.

It was as part of looking into the Internet Party and Alastair Thompson that we’ve noticed something odd about Scoop Media’s web site: scoop.co.nz.

But before I jump ahead of myself, let’s have a look at some hard data using Alexa as an independent source.  Neither Scoop Media nor I have the ability to influence what this service captures about our web sites.

First, this is what Alexa has to say about Whaleoil


That’s about right.

You can see the Len Brown spike, and the subsequent residual audience we have retained from it.  And you can see the dips around Christmas and New Year.

And, when competing against the likes of TradeMe, Google and Facebook, we still come in at 54th most visited site in New Zealand.

Notice our world-wide rank has improved nearly 3000 spots to 43,000-ish.  43,000th most popular site in the world.  Pretty irrelevant to us, but keep that number in mind.

Next, we look at scoop.co.nz  


Scoop.co.nz have had an amazing surge in world-wide popularity.

Even though they rank a mere 280th for New Zealand audiences, they have improved their world-wide ranking from about 46,000 to 24,000 with a very impressive jump of 22,212 positions.

And this is where anyone with half a logical brain cell goes:  “What?”

How is it possible for scoop.co.nz to be less popular than Whaleoil for New Zealand audiences, but at least twice more popular than Whaleoil to international audiences?

To understand this, we need to break down the traffic sources by country.

Here is Whaleoil


82.6% of our traffic comes from New Zealand.  That’s why we’re so highly ranked in NZ.

This is Scoop


Now, those are the hard facts.

Let’s look at another metric:  Browsing location (Home, school or work)

Once again, Whaleoil is first


As you would expect with a site like ours, our content appeals to adults.  Adults tend to be either at home or at work when they read Whaleoil.

Now, Scoop, with news, press releases, and such… where do you think the majority of their audience will come from?

Work, right?


Apparently not.

So the question that goes begging is:

Why, exactly, is Scoop Media’s scoop.co.nz web site so popular in the education sectors of India and Pakistan?

And why is New Zealand traffic to scoop.co.nz only 10.5% of their total traffic?

Traffic on scoop.co.nz has settled a bit, but the Most visited site world-wide ranking shot from about 70,000 to 13,000 last year.

The question is:  why?

What happened in the world, or in New Zealand, that made Scoop shoot from 70,000 to 13,000 in a matter of a week or two, but curiously enough, mostly for web site visitors from India?

Right now, they have over 500% more traffic from India than New Zealand.

From Indian educational institutes, in fact.

Could it be cricket related?  After all, India is touring New Zealand at the moment.  A check of Scoop’s archives show very little cricket related press releases or coverage and certainly nothing recent so it can’t be that.

So up to here, this is all hard data.  Let me now start running through what I believe is going on.

In my mind there is only one explanation.

They’re cheating by buying international traffic to boost their ratings.


This is where we enter the realms of speculation.

On the one hand, it would appear that the more traffic you have, the more you get paid for your advertising.  But that’s pretty useless, because people have to click on the ads before that has any value to the business.

Question:  Are Scoop getting Indian school and uni kids to click their ads?

So, if it’s not boosting actual income right now, why else would you want to puff up the web site stats?

Perhaps Selwyn Pellet has been scammed?

Scoop Media owner Selwyn Pellett said: “We had no idea of the extent of [Alastair Tompson’s]  involvement until Cameron Slater’s blog today.

“We knew he was considering some involvement and the discussion was ‘you can’t do both jobs’. You can’t be an editor and be actively involved in Dotcom’s party.”

He added: “It is disappointing. There is no ill-feeling with Alastair. This is his passion and it is what he believes in and wants to do.”

What else has Selwyn not been told about.  Is he, once again, reading it first on Whaleoil?

But if Selwyn does know, why would this artificial web site traffic boosting be happening?

We have looked at the Scoop Media Cartel previously, with sites like The Strandard and Public Address involved in getting advertising revenue via their cooperative traffic volume.  Is this where the scam lies?  Are they charging, or planning to charge, their advertisers higher fees based on fake web site traffic?

And if it isn’t that, perhaps Alastair Thompson has been inflating the value of his work, so that when he sells out of the business, his shares are worth more?

Or, they’re all pretty much in it together, and they’re trying to pump up Scoop’s artificial value before scamming some new shareholder, or floating the company publicly?

Selwyn Pellett, who has recently invested in Scoop with his brother Craig, was tweeting too. He said he and his brother had invested because they wanted to help Alastair push Scoop to the next level. “As the major shareholder in Scoop Holdings Ltd I can assure you it’s the beginning not the end.” But he was also providing news the old-fashioned way – in conversations with reporters who then wrote their versions of the resignation story for their parent companies – print, or radio, or television – and for their organisations’ news websites.   — Scoop

The hard data stands.

Let’s see what crawls out of the woodwork in terms of coherent explanation.

One thing about artificial traffic inflation is that you have to keep it going, otherwise it crashes again.  Anyone who signs a contract with Scoop for any commercial reasons better add a penalty clause that the moving average web site traffic never falls below 90% of the average traffic that was current when they signed up.

Apart from that, I have no idea who would want to pay for Scoop adverts when 8 out of 10 people that “read” Scoop are from India or Pakistan.





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  • MAWG

    I’m surprised! Where’s the German Traffic?

    • disqus_Aa7kWsb7Fp

      Can’t fit through the door !

    • davewin


  • williamabong

    I always thought a Scoop was what dog owners used to pick up Poop.

    • Adam Michaels

      And now we have confirmation of your belief!

    • Dave

      Looks like their scoop is actually “Made in India”

  • Col

    I only got to the percentage and knew they must be buying something, but then cheats get found out don’t they.

  • DLM

    Take that in the slats Scoop. Busted.

  • Adam Michaels

    Fascinating- shows how irrelevant Scoop is to New Zealanders.

    • I got the internet in 1996 & don’t think I’ve ever been to this scoop website.

      • Adam Michaels

        Stay pure! You haven’t missed a thing!

      • Sooty

        Me, I got it when I had my Amiga 20yrs ago. Never been to Scoop. Why would I?

        • Adam Michaels

          Amiga! Those were the days.

          • Dave

            turn it on, make a coffee, wait……… connect to internet, cook dinner while waiting…………. click on message board, eat dinner while waiting… Page views per hour, possibly 10! now, 10 per minute is possible.

          • Adam Michaels

            Those were the days. Wasn’t there something called Compuserve and you paid $49 per megabyte downloaded? Plus all the other charges at a blistering 28.8 kilobytes/sec? Or was it 14.4 then? And if you lived on a farm the electric fences pretty much killed dialup a lot of the time as well.

          • Mdj

            Before that, you had BBS’ to interact with other geeks. I was the first paying customer on a long-forgotten ISP called i-Max back in the day. Early internet consisted of me trawling alt.pictures.binaries.tasteless and having to use UUENCODE to convert the text to images. Staggering the progress we have made since the mid 90s.

        • philbest

          There has been a couple of good articles by Hugh Pavletich on housing bubbles. That is the only things I have ever visited Scoop for, via links.

    • Lux

      True story ..

  • Mdj

    If there was a logical (ie non dodgy) explanation I wouldn’t be surprised if a major outsourced Indian help desk added Scoop to a list of news sites to read for keeping up to speed on local news.

    “Yes Mr. Slater, my name is Ricky from Ta-ooh-rang-ah, isn’t it awfully sad about those poor kids drowning at ha-he-i beach?”

    • Muffin

      It’s school access so that doesn’t explain it either I don’t think

      • Mdj

        I’ll ask you this – how does a data analytics site know that you are visiting from your home versus school?

        • Same way I know you’re on your Telecom XT mobile in the central north island right now — there is a huge database of IP numbers and who they have been allocated to. IP allocation blocks in the education sector are especially easy to locate, as are those in larger companies, as they were allocated a whole range of Class C blocks.

          • Mdj

            Consider there are very few schools that need a publicly routable /24 or larger subnet, and therefore most will only require a small handful of public IPs. They don’t have a requirement to go with a single provider, and thus it’s not all under a blanket Telecom ‘school’ range. The main exception is MSP services like Schoolzone.

            Maybe India has a single public IP scope assigned to the entire education sector I’m not sure. I’m fairly sure the US does. NZ schools can operate independently should they choose. UFB is likely to change this, however.

          • “School” includes all educational institutes, including universities.

            It’s like our .ac.nz + .school.nz, but it is actually done on how IP ranges are assigned, nit the domain names.

          • Mdj

            Any provider can apportion an IP to an entity. They get their domain admin to update the DNS ‘a’ record based on resolving that IP to the domain. I understand the delineation between IP and Domain name. My point is that Anyschool can go to Anyprovider in NZ and get an IP that has been divvied off to that ISP. Unless mistaken (happy to accept I’m wrong) there is no specific pool of education IPs. Eg do a Whois on Napier Girls, then on Waiuku College. If you can determine a link to those IPs being part of a nationwide school IP pool then I will eat my hat ;)

          • Mdj, I’m sorry, but you don’t know as much as you think you know. IP numbers are assign in blocks regionally to keep the routing at major traffic intersections sane.

            For example

            Here is a class B block handed out to NZ Telecom

            % [whois.apnic.net]
            % Whois data copyright terms http://www.apnic.net/db/dbcopyright.html

            % Information related to ‘ –’

            inetnum: –
            netname: PLV-TELECOM-NZ
            descr: Telecom New Zealand Ltd
            country: NZ
            admin-c: IA42-AP
            tech-c: IA42-AP
            notify: [email protected]
            mnt-by: NZTELECOM
            changed: [email protected] 20090826
            status: ASSIGNED NON-PORTABLE
            source: APNIC

            person: IP Administrator
            address: Telecom Internet Registry
            address: Level 9, Mayoral Drive BLDG
            address: Private Bag 92028
            address: Auckland
            country: NZ
            phone: +64-9-355-4052
            e-mail: [email protected]
            nic-hdl: IA42-AP
            mnt-by: NZTELECOM
            changed: [email protected] 20070911
            source: APNIC

            % This query was served by the APNIC Whois Service version 1.69.1-APNICv1r0 (WHOIS3)

            But those are telcos, and they subnet their blocks as needed, and a lot of retail customers get just on IP from that pool.

            Educational institutes are also large. They are assigned several C blocks and even B blocks.

            This isn’t IP numbers at retail level.

            Sorry, I was going to write more, in more detail, using Auckland uni as an example, but I have to help Cam right now.

          • Mdj

            I’m not talking about tertiary mate. I was discussing schools as in the context we were discussing above (eg if I asked a uni student if they were still at school they will likely respond “no I’m at uni” if you follow me).

            If we are now talking about AUT, AU, MIT etc then yes- you are correct. No need to explain further because we are discussing two different things.

            If, though, you can easily identify traffic coming from our regional school network by IP then I stand corrected and cede defeat. Is that what you are saying?

          • All that aside, there still isn’t an alternative explanation why only 10% or so of Scoops traffic is from New Zealand, and why there is such a sustained surge from the subcontinent.

          • Mdj

            Agreed. But I am still having a hard time understanding why it would be so blatant, and deliberate, and most of all obvious. Like…Duh. Perhaps they can cough up their GA data for you guys to correlate?

      • ratmuncher

        “School access” – This is how it works according to my indian IT guy.
        Rent school computers for night shift or register yourself as a school and have a whole class of students paying you to learn computer skills while spamming etc.

        • Muffin

          Ok that had crossed my mind

  • Bart67

    I am a reasonably prolific user of the internet, and I source much of my current affairs information through this medium, and I remember visiting Scoop, but I do not have any inclination of doing so again. If you need to fudge figures and cheat in order to inflate your own self worth, then by all means, but there are other sites out there that do so simply by providing a quality product. If you compromise on quality, then you will fail. Ask The Herald!

    • Dave

      Bart Sshhhhhhhh the herald are in the shadow of a large german, and have the Pinko shields up, they have no idea they are failing, not even McCarten, as accustomed to failure as he is can see it coming.

  • Simon Brown

    would have been worth waiting to see how it played out before breaking the story. must be the dilemma of when to run it and making sure you’re the first still

  • Steve (North Shore)

    Seems to be like Max Headroom and Network 23. Controlling and manufacturing News

  • JDub

    Just take those stats with a grain of salt Cam – without an actual tracking code on the site it’s plenty of guesswork and estimation.

    I work for a website and comparing the stats between Google Analytics and Alexa show a vast discrepancy between them. Our ‘India’ audience according to Google is around 0.6%, but Alexa reckons it’s closer to 6%.

    • Do you know why Google Analytics can be fooled, and Alexis can’t? The answer lies in the difference between the stats capturing code running server side or client side. Those that run client side will pick up the actual IP, whereas Google Analytics reports on the proxy.

      • Mdj
        • I don’t know your background Mdj, but I know mine, and at the risk of sounding like a total prat, unless you first prove to me that you know you’re business, I’m not willing to enter into a debate on some link on some other website that I would subsequently have to analyse their background, their data, etc.

          I can tell you this for sure: Nothing on Alexa is accurate. Nothing on Google Analytics or any other metrics system is accurate.

          But they are all there, or thereabouts.

          You do not “accidentally” jump from 60,000 to 20,000 most visited site in the world with traffic being sheeted home to India and Pakistan because Alexa’s methodology is crap.

          If Alexa, or any other system to measure traffic is rubbish, it also continues to be so consistently. It’s not the hard numbers that are of concern, it is the sudden and proportional change.

          • Mdj

            I work in IT and have done for around 18 years combined in various roles. I have also run a website using GA, as well as a Facebook page & used their analytics tools as well (which is some scary detailed stuff).

            However that aside I don’t like to take things on face value alone, so when ever I read anything fishy I always try and do my own digging around. After all, that’s why I come here – to get an alternative view on things. My point above is, Alexa traffic appears to be manipulative, more so than GA so I’m not fully convinced – yet.

          • Ronnie Chow

            Yes , but , Scoop is a non-tabloid news source mostly specific to NZ domestic issues , is it not ?.

            Any overseas interest would be peripheral at best .

          • The real question is: IF this is genuine, WHY is the traffic sourced via India and Pakistan?

          • Maquarie Jack

            I might be a silly old codger, but I read a considerable number of NZ and overseas newspapers on-line every day. I have never even heard of Scoop. By the way, I read Whaleoil at least once a day, and usually more than once.

          • I have no problem with the idea that Alexa, or any other system, is less accurate or less reliable. But here’s some logic for you to work on

            1) if there was a software change back when the MAJOR change kicked in, why isn’t that reflected on other NZ web sites that serve a similar audience

            2) Even if Alexa is total crap, it is the relative change that is of interest.

            3) It is a sustained change, so it isn’t a temporary “glitch”

            Go find me another NZ web site that shows this movement in the same period, and then I’ll be more interested.

            And finally, good on you for making up your own mind.

          • Mdj

            Following the same train of thought.. Have ANZ played the pump & dump here or was there some other change to reporting of analytics ?

            And thanks, if meant sincerely, that’s exact I what I like to do. I take all media with the proverbial grain of salt.

          • I need you to find me an example of a traffic spike AND an India/Pakistan link. Because promoting or having a successful website in itself isn’t a red flag.

            There isn’t a 60% increase from India/Pakistan for ANZ

            If you want to pick at the data, you need to do so correctly ;)

          • Teletubby

            Or is it related to the merging of the National Bank brand into the ANZ brand?

        • 4077th

          Regardless of the base data flaws the sudden shift is the POI. Questions should be,
          1. What significant business activities occurred during this time,
          2. Given we know discussions were taking place about the Internet Party around this time were there any major advertisers approached in anticipation of their announcement and what were they told about the site traffic.
          3. Who or what organisation is responsible for the site management and what is their stance on PTC advertising pumping.

          • Mdj

            Agree totally that more questions need to be asked before arriving at a conclusion, precisely my point. I’m not saying there *isn’t* anything dodgy going on, but I’ll need more convincing at this stage.

            Potentially it could be innocuous (eg a market research team in India had Alexa toolbar installed and shone the light on Scoop, same for a call centre with ties to NZ for outsource reasons, which I lightly referenced below) but it could well be the old pump and dump too. I will follow with interest.

  • adsup

    If it’s for selling advertising or for selling a shareholding it’s fraud. Funnily enough Dotcon was prosecuted for a similar pump and dump scam.

  • Rodger T

    Don`t you just love the firkin` internet?
    It kinda amazes me me that people (who should know better) have not learnt that you can`t hide from or bullshit here.

  • sheppy

    After reading the MSM why would anyone need to visit a left leaning website to be told the same thing?

    • Adam Michaels

      They be like Len Brown- need another hit! Those two minute fixes wear off.

      • sheppy

        It must take a lot to keep believing that socialism is still relevant in a growing economy….

        • Adam Michaels

          It does and I guess that’s why the faithful are dwindling in numbers!

        • Adam Michaels

          It does and I guess that’s why the faithful are dwindling in numbers!

  • Ronnie Chow

    100,000 hits for as little as $300 !


    Even cheaper , Rapid hits http://www.rapidhits.net/

    • Mad Captain

      Boom. They did half a job though, should have taken the geotagged option and shaped the traffic to NZ.

      • They did.

        The problem is that the way Alexa reports traffic punches through any attempts to hide the original IP number of the visitor.


        • Mad Captain

          That’s got to rip their undies. I bet there were a few high-fives around Scoop’s office when they came across that particular service – how hilarous they’ve been busted!

          Sometimes it’s best not to cheat, especially on the interwebby, there’s always someone smarter who will find you out.

          • Dave

            And, where it leaves the obvious breadcrumb trail. Gotta laugh with the great unwashed going on about the GCSB, Chemtrails and governments watching everything we do, and here we have WOBH outing SCOOP’s cheating and deceptive ways simply using data available in the public domain, to anyone who wants to have a look.

            Well Done to Pete and the WOBH team.

            PS: Pete, its not IF the data is 100% reliable/accurate, its the huge shift in trend, given the same parameters on the same data source. Well busted!!

  • Builder

    Another scalp for Whale Oil

  • kehua

    This is what I really enjoy about this Blog, put another nail in the Wall Cam.

    • philbest

      You mean in the coffin……

      • ..and another brick in the coffin

        • P1LL

          I love your humor Pete :)

  • OrphanIsland

    It would appear most of their traffic comes form this site …
    folkd.com (Only one with the same Work/Home/School location stats)

  • Pete George

    New Zealand 82.6% – this can’t be right, they keep talking at The Standard about how Whale Oil artificially boosts numbers by baiting overseas visitors.

    • OrphanIsland

      Inflight movies ? , every 10th frame’s a “Visit Whaleoil” ad …. :-))

      What a pack of Plonkers ….

    • I’ve offered Russell Brown (who is a Scoop shareholder) direct and unfettered access to Whaleoil’s Google Analytics. The offer wasn’t accepted. It seems more fun for the speculation to continue as opposed to one of their own reporting back that there is no evil trickery after all.

      • Pete George

        lprent is another who keeps coming up with excuses for being far less popular (not abusing people and banning them would help Lynn) – have you offered your analytics to him? I doubt he would publicise them though.

        • I trust Russell Brown to be honest with what he finds. I don’t have that perception of our uber-sysop.

    • Adolf Fiinkensein

      Which in fact means they are doing it. Socialists always accuse others of crimes which the socialists themselves are committing. It’s because the poor dumb bastards don’t know how to achieve anything the honest way.

  • Statehousekid

    There are similarities to the Pakeha Party scam where they bought 50,000 likes. This is on a much bigger scale though and could involve fraud.

  • oldmanNZ

    the more traffic you have, the more you can charge for advertising, like on a radio, the more popular you are , the more it cost to advertise on prime spots.

    This is a fine example of why our Kids need ipads at school, to keep up with the clicking the indians have…so most of scoop traffic could come form NZ schools.

  • Yeah, right, whatever…

    Yep, that certainly looks like what’s happening?
    I see this a lot with unknown bands/artists who are trying to attract label interest.
    When a supposedly reputable new service avail themselves of such dodgy practices it smacks to me of desperation.
    Basically, it appears they’re in the shit!

  • timemagazine

    We should be happy that the WO is where it is. Hello, Johnny Campbell, are you there?

  • Bea

    That’s a good scoop on Scoop – again.

  • DavidinDevo

    Might be time to start using the hashtag “Poop Scoop Media”..

  • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

    Same here. WTF is scoop?

  • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

    And there are many poor, dumb bastards who don’t notice and still vote for said socialists.