Which is the Best Online-News Resource in Armenia?

According to the International Telecommunication Union[i] and CIA World Factbook[ii] the number of internet users is Armenia in 2005 was 150,000, and the number of Internet hosts in Armenia, according to 2006 figures, was 8,163. It is important to state, that continuous growth is observed in the Armenian IT sector. According to research by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation[iii], Armenian IT industry has been growing at 30% CAGR from 1998 to 2006. If this trend continuous further, the industry will reach around $250 million in total revenues by 2010. Even considering a more pessimistic scenario, the industry revenue will reach 150 mln. USD in 2011. Such rapid growth rates in the IT sector industry will inevitably result in growing internet access and enhanced internet user-base.

More importantly relatively new developments in the sector, including the decision by the Armenian Public Services Regulatory Commission to restrict[iv] the ArmenTel monopoly on Internet services in Armenia (which presupposes changes to license #60 of ArmenTel CJSC), widespread provision of GPRS and WAP internet services by both VivaCell and Armentel Mobile operators in Armenia, the potential internet user-base is bound to grow in Armenia over the next two years in a progressive manner.

Although a very small percentage of these 150,000 users turns to internet as their prime source of information (this can be estimated at 7%, as daily turnout of news website visitors is at 12,000 according to the Circle.am rating engine), the online media as a whole have a huge potential readership, which is at least twice bigger then the circulation of the biggest printed Armenian daily (most print newspapers have an average print run of 1000-2500 copies, while the biggest daily newspapers like: Aravot, Haykakan Zhamanak print a little more then 5000 copies daily).

Looking at the news and analyses available in Armenia today, website statistics, the AM directory[v] lists 903 Armenian websites in total, of which 57 are News and Media related sites. Armenian web resources rating system Circle.am[vi] lists 604 Armenian websites, of which 37 are News and Media related.

On this regard it is important to look at what is on offer today for a news consumer on the Armenian internet. The current trends of internet news products in Armenia today can be classified as follows:

  1. Fast news – mostly informative news, with very few serious analyses and often rather low quality content, represented by sites like A1plus.am, Lragir.am, Panarmenian.net, Panorama.am and Armenian Newsagency websites: Armenpress, Arminfo, Noyan Tapan.
  2. Serious analyses – less newsworthy, but more serious and with greater potential to keep the reader on the site and avoid high bounce rate (users that stay on the site less then a minute), in other words, appealing to more serious news consumer. This trend is represented by Hetq online, ArmeniaNow.com and Echannel.am.
  3. Websites with limited news content but featuring a number of interactivity technologies, including chats, forums, blogsOnline Armenia has been leading the rating of all Armenian websites for the last couple of months and even on the Election Day – May 12 was far ahead (18,700-20,637 unique users, 114,642 pageviews[vii]) of A1plus (10,871-8,818 unique users, 39,254 pageviews[viii]) which claims to be the prime news source in Armenia. Other examples of websites of this type are: Yerevan.ru, Hayastan.com, Openarmenia.am Forum, as well as a number of blogs, including: Oneworld Multimedia blog, Kornelij Glas blog and others.

Back in January I had published some of the Armenian media links I use on a regular bases, which has been slightly expanded today, I will publish it again here with some updates (please let me know if I’m missing anything important), along with a question: so which one is the best news resource in Armenia?

Observer’s Armenian Media Bookmarks

News and Analyses
Newsagencies Online Newspapers TV Companies Radio
Aravot Daily ArmenPress Zhamanak.com Public TV | H1 Radio Liberty
new.aravot.am ArmInfo Panorama.am Armenia TV Public Radio
AZG Daily ARKA ArmeniaNow.com Second TV | H2 Int. Public Radio
A1plus / AybFe Mediamax Echannel.am
Yerkir Media VEM Armenia
Chorrord Ishkhanutyun Defacto Hetq Shant TV Radio Van
Golos Armenii Noyan Tapan Taregir TV5 Company ALFAEL
Haykakan Zhamanak Mediainform Lragir    
Hayastani Hanrapetutyun Photolure      
Yerkir Newspaper Patkerphoto      
Novoye Vremya Panarmenian.net      
168 Hours Online        
Iravunk Newspaper        
Respublika Armenia        
“Business Express”        
Noravank.am        

Bibliography


[i] http://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-d/opb/ind/D-IND-WTDR-2006-SUM-PDF-E.pdf

ii] https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/am.html#Comm

iii] http://www.eif-it.com/edit/news_admin/news_images/1_109_big.pdf

iv] http://www.huliq.com/2283/armentel-deprived-of-the-monopoly-on-internet-access

v] https://www.amnic.net/directory/view/?category=2

vi] http://www.circle.am/?cat=news&for=today&by=visits

ii] http://www.circle.am/?go=showstat&id=6163

viii] http://www.circle.am/?go=showstat&id=1983

20 thoughts on “Which is the Best Online-News Resource in Armenia?

  1. Reply
    Uzogh - 18.06.2007

    Just one correction
    We are not an online newspaper.
    We are news agency.

  2. Reply
    Uzogh - 18.06.2007

    One more thing – NEVER trust Circle.am data.
    In short – they have no good anonymous proxy checks, that’s why it may be easily “tweaked”.
    The only source I trust is Google analytics.
    And of course – if you remember – I’m still open to share data about PanARMENIAN visitor stats.

  3. Reply
    Observer - 18.06.2007

    I do not trust Circle.am data, but I have used it as a baseline, because I don’t have access to the Google Analytics data of any of the mentioned news sources, while the Circle.am data is readily available for everyone to review. Incidentally, I am sure, that the number of internet users is more the 150,000 in Armenia, however, I do not have verifiable indicators for it, so I have used the 2005 figures which I was able to find.
    On the other hand, as you may have seen from my classification of online news sources, more visitors/hits/pageviews do not necessarily mean quality/best news source for me.
    Speaking of Panarmenian.net statistics, I have noticed the corresponding tab on the bottom of the Panarmenian.net website, with the Achqahulunq attached to it 🙂 (right now it says 6000 visitors, and I’m ready to accept, that it is quite an accurate number), however, i didn’t have Circle.am figures for it, hence, I couldn’t really compare it with the other websites.
    I must also state, that I use Panarmenian.net on a daily bases, because it is fast, available in the two main languages I need (English/Armenian) and is always quick at adopting new technologies (RSS, thematic sorting, etc.) which is something I always appreciate.

  4. Reply
    Observer - 18.06.2007

    Actually, to be quite honest, I get 90% of my Armenian news from the Armenian public radio+Radio Liberty broadcast on the same channel. I receive the rest of my news via various RSS feeds: Panarmenian.net, A1plus, Yerkir-Media, Echannel. However, with RSS news I generally only read the titles and description, and rarely go to the website for the main content.

  5. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 18.06.2007

    My personal opinion is that you can’t trust any of the online statistics and should monitor them all! Forget about tweaking, no one statistics service is foolproof and 100 percent reliable. For this reason I use Google Analytics, StatCounter AND Circle.am on my site. I’d actually use more if I could remember user accounts and passwords or could employ someone to keep an eye on them for me. Anyway, the point is that not one of these services is 100 percent reliable or foolproof, but unless someone is out to really screw around with statistics they all give some kind of idea about accesses.
    This is especially useful when it comes to checking the reported claims of some online media sites who quote huge numbers of readers but fail to reach anything close according to their Circle.am statistics. Hetq Online, for example, says it receives 110,000 readers a month, but according to its Circle.am counter it gets about 400-700 readers a day maximum. Actually, this is no mean feat for an online news publication in Armenia, but it does illustrate that people are really not interested in reading much about Armenia even in the Diaspora.
    I guess one interesting aspect to all of this is not how few people are actually accessing web sites for news outlets, but how those who run the sites don’t seem to care about limited readership. As long as inflated figures for readers are provided to international donors, perhaps, all that matters is the next funding for the next series of articles on a specific theme of interest to whichever Embassy or organization providing the money.
    Ironically, with such statistics if they were true, there would be the possibility for becoming self-sustainable from advertising, but as we know, the number of readers is pitifully low. Yes, there is a limited audience here, but there is also a Diaspora and it appears that even those with internet connections don’t care much for reading the sites. This is pretty much the situation for newspapers. Pro-opposition or pro-government, the majority just aren’t interested or don’t trust the information supplied through them.
    There needs to be a radical re-think as to how news and information is disseminated in Armenia and the Diaspora, and I also think that until you own up to the fact of limited low readership, it’s unlikely you’re going to change the situation while you still avoid tackling the number one problem facing your publication. The market should theoretically decide who succeeds and who fails, but as we know, there are people and bodies with money who are doing it all for us instead.
    Pro-opposition or pro-government it doesn’t matter. The situation is still the same. There is no real market for real news in or from Armenia. There are only those who support or oppose the government, or those organizations who want nice articles about themselves in print. All have the money to determine editorial policy and do.

  6. Reply
    Uzogh - 18.06.2007

    ==============
    Speaking of Panarmenian.net statistics, I have noticed the corresponding tab on the bottom of the Panarmenian.net website, with the Achqahulunq attached to it 🙂 (right now it says 6000 visitors, and I’m ready to accept, that it is quite an accurate number), however, i didn’t have Circle.am figures for it, hence, I couldn’t really compare it with the other websites.
    ==============
    It’s not a correct figure to make any calculation on.
    Actually it is showing number of internal counter calls and have nothing more than a simple “+1” counter. We never use it as a source for figures to give, for example, to our advertisement clients.
    I’ve tried a lot of statistics software and finished with Google Analytics. It really works.

  7. Reply
    Uzogh - 18.06.2007

    =========
    My personal opinion is that you can’t trust any of the online statistics and should monitor them all!
    =========
    I would like to disagree.
    I’ve tested a lot of statistics services – and I’m sure for myself – Google Analytics rules.
    =========
    I guess one interesting aspect to all of this is not how few people are actually accessing web sites for news outlets, but how those who run the sites don’t seem to care about limited readership.
    =========
    You’re right, but only for donor-financed sites.
    Just for example – we care about our readers, because they bring us Google Adwords revenues, and advertisement contracts.
    That’s why it is vital for us to have keyword optimization in place, and we really need thorough statistics analysis.
    =========
    There needs to be a radical re-think as to how news and information is disseminated in Armenia and the Diaspora, and I also think that until you own up to the fact of limited low readership, it’s unlikely you’re going to change the situation while you still avoid tackling the number one problem facing your publication.
    =========
    Fully agree!
    I think, that there’s no no limitation in number of readers. There’s a limitation in advertisement. And that’s why we pay a lot of attention to statistics and keyword optimization.

  8. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 18.06.2007

    Google Analytics rules

    Well, it might be better than the others, but it can’t be 100 percent accurate. That’s my point. Anyway, what I was trying to say was that no counter is anything other than an approximation. I don’t doubt Google Analytics is the best although, to be honest, I don’t access it so frequently because of the time it takes everything to display over a dial up.

  9. Reply
    Uzogh - 18.06.2007

    ========
    Well, it might be better than the others, but it can’t be 100 percent accurate.
    ========
    There’s nothing 100% accurate. Definitely.
    But there’s just one point – while you are trying to understand the traffic of your site – you have to deal with some kind of stats tools.
    I was working with Webtrends, Webalizer, Spylog, Hotlog, etc – they all suck.
    Actually this topic (web-site stat analysis) is too wide to discuss in comments – perhaps it is better to explain it orally, but just believe me – I’ve spent a lot of time and my math skills to find it out.
    I even do not want to mention Circle.am – it is just a toy, not a real tool.

  10. Reply
    kornelij - 19.06.2007

    analysys also on noravank.am 🙂

  11. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 19.06.2007

    I even do not want to mention Circle.am – it is just a toy, not a real tool.

    Yeah, sure, but it’s a good way to get an approximation of accesses to your site and also to see an approximation of how many people are accessing other sites. Indeed, I’d argue that without circle.am we’d have no idea of how low accesses to sites such as Hetq and Armenia Now considering claims made and how much money is spent on them.
    It’s also interesting to see which sites do better than them, and from looking at circle.am so far, community-based sites/forums are the only real deal in town although I will say that given the situation or most media outlets online, PanArmenian.net and A1 Plus are very successful indeed even if comparing an hourly/daily news service with a weekly one is perhaps a little unfair.
    Still, the point is as Observer says, as a whole, few people are interested in online news from here for now. I think this needs to be addressed, and yes, you’re right, analyzing your market AND your statistics is key. No online publication of any note in the West would forget that if they were serious and I’m glad that PanArmenian.net at least understand this very important reality.

  12. Reply
    Rhyne - 19.06.2007

    Circle.am really is a joke and the results can be easily manipulated for devious ends! 😀

  13. Reply
    Observer - 19.06.2007

    Kornelij jan – thank you, I added it to the list as well. Uzogh – I have also moved Panarmenian.net to the Newsagencies section.

  14. Reply
    Uzogh - 19.06.2007

    ========
    approximation of how many people are accessing other sites
    ========
    It’s not true.
    Actually, as Rhyne mentioned, Circle statistics are easily cheated.
    When somebody tries to create a service he must think about the correct work of it. My favorite example is voting on A1Plus. Once I’ve created a cheat script for it, and it works. Then I’ve shared this script with the developer of A1Plus, and they have closed this hole. I’m sure that there are some people cheating Circle, that’s why I do not want to take Circle data into account. Circle is very vulnerable to such attacks, and nothing can be made with it, until it will get some marketing (and financial) boost.

  15. Reply
    Uzogh - 19.06.2007

    By the way – visit here http://www.liveinternet.ru/stat/a1plus.am/index.html?date=2007-05-18;period=month
    You will see very interesting data.
    It’s one of their counters, and it gives very interesting figures.
    BTW – I trust this counter more, than Circle’s one.
    JFYI – PanARMENIAN had ~ 4k visitors/day in this May.

  16. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 20.06.2007

    Well, all online voting on web sites is problematic and should never be taken seriously, but anyway. As for cheating statistic services, I’m not sure many people will bother. It means nothing unless you’re going for funding and there we can see that online publications make up other numbers for putting in their proposals even if a stat counter on another site makes it blatantly clear that they overinflated the figures and are deceiving potential donors anyway.
    Still, there’s two more issues with regards to all of this, I think. I don’t think it matters how many people access your site, it’s who and why, but the main purpose of any statistics service is not even to get figures to push for more money if you’re a commercial organization, it’s to analyze the success and failure of your own web site in order to make it more useful, effective and popular. On that basis alone, Google Analytics comes out top.

  17. Reply
    Observer - 20.06.2007

    I guess what really counts is – how much time a user has spent on your website and what pages s/he has visited. On that regard I spend more time on ArmeniNow and RFE/RL websites, then anywhere else of the news sources brought above. I used to use the Aravot website quite intensively too, but recently they have started delaying website updates till the second part of the day, so I’ve stopped visiting their website and prefer to stick to the paper version for up to date info.

  18. Reply
    Uzogh - 20.06.2007

    =========
    I guess what really counts is – how much time a user has spent on your website and what pages s/he has visited.
    =========
    I think not only this.
    The most interesting thing is search engine traffic. Particularly – keywords the people use to reach your website. Because users are getting information about your site only from there. That’s why for me – as a news resource technical manager – it is very important.
    Next thing is relations with our advertisers – they need information about the quantity of visitors, because it is vital for them to understand where are they putting their advertisement.
    The other thing is monitoring who is linking to us, and how this links correlate with our copyright policy.
    And of course – the quantity of visitors is something that can tell us about the popularity.

  19. Reply
    Uzogh - 20.06.2007

    ========
    I’m not sure many people will bother
    ========
    For me – it is enough to doubt on any figure, provided by this service.
    Because you never know – who is cheating, and who is really candid.
    I know for sure, that most of statistics services are in some way secured from cheating. It is not so complex, but requires good bandwidth, good programmers, and a lot of hardware resources. That’s why i stress on marketing, and as result, growth of financial resources. While Circle is something being done on voluntary basis – it will have all the drawbacks of a hobby.
    ===========
    I don’t think it matters how many people access your site, it’s who and why, but the main purpose of any statistics service is not even to get figures to push for more money if you’re a commercial organization, it’s to analyze the success and failure of your own web site in order to make it more useful, effective and popular. On that basis alone, Google Analytics comes out top.
    ===========
    Agree.

  20. Reply
    Avetis Avagyan - 28.06.2007

    Quite interesting post and discussion. I just want to comment on criticism around reliability of Circle.Am data. It has strong and weak sides – both natural to on-line web statistics system.
    There can be no on-line stats system, which one cannot cheated. Google Analytics is not an exception and financial (or other) factors mentioned by Uzogh will not help. HTTP (which we are mainly talking about) have its theoretical limitations and you need to live with it.
    The important is that all are affected in similar way, so (especially) relative calculations/analysis using Circle.Am data can be quite useful. Cheaters – yes – there are some. But we catch them and remove from Circle.Am.
    Most of Armenian Webmasters know that Circle.Am is great source of traffic (Google Page Rank boost, etc) for them so vast majority of them will not risk their being listed in Circle.Am by cheating.
    There is one thing which I like the most about Circle.Am… and this is actually one of the key reasons I’ve developed it. Armenians (probably more that other nations) like to say “we are the best, we are the greatest, we have one-two-three million visitors per month/day/etc.”. Circle.Am will show you the reality – not with 100% correctness and subject to some cheating fluctuations (whom we catch and remote from index), but the real picture indeed.
    I guess, there are also people who, for some unknown to me reasons, do not like me or my Circle.Am, but this is their untouchable right 🙂

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