Ding It, a UK-based esports broadcasting company that has touted its “amazing” growth, has actually been purchasing at least 20 percent of its traffic via paid advertisements
A Slingshot investigation into Ding It’s traffic sources revealed a significant chunk of its visits are the direct result of paid advertisements. We presented our findings to Ding It and then asked how much of their traffic they would attribute to purchasing ads. Adam Simmons, the company’s Director of Content, told Slingshot it was about 20 percent.
Three of Ding It’s top five upstream referrers — the site people visit just before visiting Ding It — are advertising tracking sites, according to Alexa.com, an Internet analytics tracker.
“What it looks like to me is that the site has bought ‘page views’ from an advertising service that is delivering most of its traffic,” said Phillip Hallam-Baker, VP and Principal Scientist at Comodo, Inc and Internet security expert. “Simply advertising on other sites does not make the traffic bogus. The question is whether the reader is likely to return to the site of their own accord, link to it from their own pages, etc.
“Pay one of these folk some cash and your page views will increase rapidly. But those readers probably won’t even be aware their browser visited your site, let alone return of their own accord in the future.”
Ding It’s page views are certainly increasing at a rapid rate. Dingit.tv is the 1,107th most popular site in the world, and it has risen more than 2,000 positions in the last three months, according to Alexa. In the UK, Ding It is currently the 243rd most popular site, ahead of the likes of KickStarter, Bloomberg, Blizzard’s Battle.net, and even the Daily Star, a national newspaper. Ding It’s UK ranking increased by six places alone overnight. But purchasing a substantial amount of that traffic throws into question whether that growth can be sustained without continuing those purchases indefinitely.
Ding It originally launched in 2015 as a Twitch competitor, focusing more on esports broadcasts than letting anyone come and stream their games on the platform. In recent months, however, the company has focused more on creating short highlight videos of esports events and other broadcasts. In February, Ding It announced it had reached 20 million unique views per month.
Still, in an interview with Slingshot, Ding It has openly embraced this strategy. Simmons told Slingshot that even though some of the traffic is bought, they’re all real people and not bots.
“We invest quite a lot of our money into advertising through a wide variety of sources as part of our traffic acquisition.,” Simmons said, adding that the company became profitable last year. “So that’s paid advertising on social media on different forums, through display advertising as well, and a way a lot of those display advertisements work is they go through ad servers and those ad server referrals have some really weird names.
“There would be no benefit to us getting any bot accounts anyway. It wouldn’t make us any money. It would just cost us money.”