Room to Grow

I got a wake-up call when I went into Google Analytics and took a look at the volume of Twelve Mile Circle readers by metropolitan area. That’s not a tab I normally examine. I’m much more interested in the state and town totals. I was taken aback because it suggested that there were a handful of places where nobody had ever visited 12MC.

12MC Popularity by Metropolitan Area

It seemed confounding, preposterous even, that after five years of running Google Analytics on the site and logging literally hundreds of thousands of visitors, that not a single person had viewed the blog from several locations. Those places appear as the non-shaded spots (completely white) in the screen grab reproduced above. It turned out to be a glitch. I found metropolitan user statistics for all of those areas when I went into the individual state maps and drilled down from there. Apparently Google Analytics didn’t shade places with fewer than a hundred visitors in some instances, although not in all instances, when viewed on its national map. Weird.

12MC has indeed received visitors from every metropolitan area in the United States. Clearly there’s room to grow in several of those places, though. Here are the locations sending fewer than 100 readers over the last five years:

  • Twin Falls ID = 98
  • Lima OH = 93
  • St. Joseph MO = 86
  • Laredo TX = 81
  • Yuma AZ-El Centro CA = 76
  • Meridian MS = 71
  • Greenwood-Greenville MS = 67
  • Alpena MI = 59
  • Zanesville OH = 48
  • North Platte NE = 43
  • Victoria TX = 41
  • Glendive MT = 4

I still can’t explain why some of these areas appear on the Google Analytic U.S. map in the expected manner with properly recorded visits, and others do not.

My mind wandered naturally to the bottom of the list where I noticed Glendive, Montana. Four visits? Really? That’s less than a single visit per year. I dug a little deeper. Three visits came from the town of Glendive proper and landed on my US ferry map, my pathetic Montana counties page, and an account of the sliver of Canada that drains to the Gulf of Mexico. The fourth visitor came from tiny Terry, Montana expressing an interest in river headwaters and sources.

I decided I must know more about Glendive and why it sent so few visitors to the site. First, there’s no truth to the rumor that it attracted my attention because it’s only 100 road miles from Ismay (Joe). That was a happy coincidence. Glendive is a genuine Google mapping anomaly completely on its own. The unit that’s labeled Glendive is quite small considering its geographic placement and the population density is quite low. It is surrounded by much larger geographic units labeled Great Falls, Billings, Rapid City and Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson. Why does Glendive stand on its own amongst those much larger cities and areas.

View Larger Map

As I searched through various maps the closest equivalent I could find to the map used by Anaytics was Nielsen’s Designated Market Areas®. People are probably more familiar with this concept in the form of "Nielsen Ratings" for television and radio programs in the United States. Nielsen divides the U.S. into 210 media markets for purpose of viewer measurements and advertisement rates. I would never claim that Google borrowed Nielsen’s breakouts as the basis for their Analytics tool although there are some striking similarities including the Glendive anomaly.

All kidding aside, if anyone knows of a better source for the Analytics map please let me know in the comments. It seems to make some sense that it’s based roughly on the DMA concept since Google Analytics is designed to measure viewer consumption of a media product too.

View Larger Map
Glendive and its Broadcast Antenna (Lat/Long via FCC website)

The City of Glendive is actually quite large for its rural area with nearly 5,000 residents. On the other hand it’s a very small media market area. In fact it’s dead last, number 210, with only 4,050 households (note: residents vs. households obviously aren’t the same). Glendive is served primarily by Glendive Broadcasting, with an AM station (KXGN), FM station (KDZN), and television station (KXGN) that broadcasts both the CBS and NBC networks on digital channels 5.1 and 5.2 respectively. The larger Glendive area has around 30,000 homes. Glendive Broadcasting notes:

Over 53 years of service to Glendive and the surrounding area… Glendive and Dawson County are the trading nucleus for nine counties of the East-Central border area of Montana and Western North Dakota. One of the richest areas of the state with an income generated by wheat, sugar beets and cattle ranching.

That still doesn’t answer why Glendive has its own media market. I couldn’t find an answer. I’m going to guess that it had something to do with the longevity of television broadcasting in that location combined with a lack of coverage from surrounding areas.

Here’s the best part though. A 30-second advertisement during prime time can be purchased for only $36. Think of the possibilities. I could send the station a homemade 12MC promotional video, run it three times for barely more than a hundred bucks, and probably quadruple the number of Glendive visitors to the website in a single evening!

4 Replies to “Room to Grow”

  1. If someone were to make the spot, I’d chip in $12 to air it. Just two more people like me, and it could be a done deal! I think it would be hilarious to buy a 30 second spot promoting 12MC. I’ve gotten a lot from 12MC over the years (even if I’ve mostly just lurked). I say it’s time we give back.

  2. Second. I’m in for $12.
    I’m sure it’d be easy to make a Ken Burns Style 12MC ad. Just some pics and some screenshots.
    Maybe make it slightly political sounding.

    Who do you want representing YOU in washington?

  3. Let’s make this 12MC advertisement happen. I’ll contribute $12 to the effort! David F-H, that’s a creative idea for a promo.

  4. I’ve spent many a time passing through Glendive on family road trips from Billings (usually to Minneapolis or further east). I’ve probably been through the town a dozen times, but really only stopped once to walk around downtown. If you are coming from the east it’ll likely be the first “major” community you’ll find in Montana and it serves as an I-94 rest stop. Eastern Montana is quite isolated and Glendive, despite its size and stature, is a major media hub for the area. I knew someone who used to be the sportswriter/editor for the newspaper there in the early 90s and there was (and always has been) high demand for coverage of the area high schools (esp. basketball and football). The Billings Gazette gets delivered out there (in fact it gets all the way out to Dickinson, N.D.) but nobody is really “on the ground” in these areas. In fact, the Gazette covers almost the entirety of eastern Montana (including Plentywood, which is situated at least 350 miles to the northeast!). Needless to say, no Billings reporter actually gets up to these areas, so the need for local news is still best provided by Glendive (and to some extent, Sidney).

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