What’s Lurking on Your Internet?

Friday, or possibly Saturday, may be a minor holiday for some people in the stone industry. Unless there’s a last-minute rush on the New York Times Website, “What’s Lurking in Your Countertop?” should fall off the top of the list of most e-mailed articles for the newspaper.
It’s been a prestigious run, hitting first place since its July 24 publication. In one way, it shows the impact of the Internet. However, the long-term effects may turn out differently than initial expectations (or fears).

The Times doesn’t release actual counts, but it’s likely the e-mail distribution for “Lurking” ranks in the thousands (if not tens of thousands). For groups like the Marble Institute of America, trying to answer the piece is frustrating, since there’s no way to determine where all those e-mails went.

The movement of “Lurking” on the 30-day distribution list next week, however, may show if the mailing ended up as more of a spike – the bulk of the e-mail requests in the space of a day or two after publication – or a gradual build-up. If the evidence points to a spike, that means there was a quick rush to get the article out, and then interest subsided.

It’s also worth noting that one user on the Times site can email up to 20 different other addresses at a time (21 if the sender also requests a copy). A concentrated effort to break up larger lists into 20-address segments, along with four or five people spending an hour or two at the computer, could have several thousand copies sailing around the ‘Net in an hour.

What’s also interesting from the Times is the lack of support for the “Lurking” article in other online areas. It didn’t have staying power on the top 25 lists (the Times notes traffic for the past day, seven days and 30 days) for mentions on other sites’ blogs or links back to the article.

And, on the “most-requested searches” of the Times site, the terms “granite” and “countertop” disappeared from the Top 50 list in a day or two after print publication of “Lurking.” “Radon” didn’t make the cut.

Was the distribution of “Lurking” a person-to-person thing signifying the start of grass-roots concern about radon and countertops? Or was it a mass-mailing ploy to manufacture more media buzz? Keep an eye on the numbers.

• One more note on trade shows: The official notice of the “Granite & Radon – An Industry Update” presentation at StonExpo Marmomacc Americas on Oct. 16 also stated the Stone World Fabricator of the Year award would revert back to the magazine’s show booth (its standard location for the past decade) at 5 p.m. While it may be odd to list a competitor, it’s also worth noting that SW annually celebrates the event with a free beer for attendees. And if I’m talking about trade-show value, it doesn’t get much better than a free cold one at the end of the day, no matter who’s tapping the keg. (Just don’t tell them I sent you.)

 – Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at www.stonebusiness.net, where you can also find this blog at the top of the home page under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.”

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