Thursday, May 14, 2009

Demographics For Comic Book & Pop-Culture Sites

One of the things I have to do for my job is come up with comparative charts on demographic data for websites. The research site of choice for me in this work is Quantcast.

As a lark, I decided to do a chart comparing a broad spectrum of comics, movie, and pop-culture related sites. The sites I compared were:
I realize the inclusion of xkcd was a bit like comparing apples to oranges, but I wanted a baseline as to how a popular webcomic compares.

The demographic categories I used were:
  • Monthly Traffic
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Has Kids/Has No Kids
  • Income
  • College Education
A few general observations based on the data:

The most gender balanced sites were The Comics Reporter, xkcd, Marvel, IGN, and Rotten Tomatoes.

The most gender imbalanced sites were Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, and io9 (all in favor of males).

IGN had far and away the highest traffic, followed by Rotten Tomatoes, io9, Marvel, and xkcd.

The typical Newsarama/Comic Book Resources user is:
1. Male
2. 18-34
3. Without children
4. Caucasian (but with a % of African-American users that is high above the Internet average, more than any of the other sites)
5. Has an income $30,000 or less

The site with the highest # of users with children (years 0-17) is IGN, followed by Marvel and The Comics Reporter.

Some thoughts based on the data:
  • Newsarama & Comic Book Resources seem to fit very snugly in what is considered the key demographic of the mainstream superhero comics reader. And yet both the Marvel (and to a slightly lesser extent) DC sites have a far more broader demographic -- where do all the female visitors of the Marvel & DC sites get their comic book news? IGN? Very possibly.
  • If the majority of Newsarama & Comic Book Resources visitors make under $30,000 a year, how are they dealing with the rising cost of comics & the recession?
  • If there is such a high % of users who have children, then it makes sense for them to push their all-ages material -- and why comics like their adaptation of Wizard of Oz do so well.
  • xkcd does pretty good numbers, competing neck-in-neck with the Marvel & DC sites. I wonder how the other popular webcomics would measure up (might be the subject of a future chart, though I'm sure it's been done already by sites that cover webcomics exclusively).
  • One thing I sometimes point out to clients is how a smaller site with a relatively simpler design does so much better than sites with all the flash and bells & whistles -- case in point xkcd, but many personal blogs, etc.
Anyway, those were some insights. Visit the Quantcast site to read about their methodologies, and also realize that there are other demographic/audience measurement tools out there with other ways of gathering information.

And if you would like a copy of the full comparative chart, email me.

EDIT: further thoughts that popped into my mind:
  • the fact that a site like IGN covers video games probably swings a lot of traffic and female visitors in their direction -- as well as younger users.
  • It's possible that the DC & Marvel site visitors that don't fit into the Newsarama/Comic Book Resources demo visit smaller sites and blogs that more specifically address their demo, or that have a completely different approach entirely.
  • If you are an advertiser, you care not only about traffic, but about the site's specific demographics. Traffic becomes an overall less important factor than specifics in income, etc.


  1. All I can think of for female readersis daily_scans. Women far outweigh men there from the comments. Then there is taking into account people who get their news from character specific fan pages like the superman homepage or the legion omnicom

  2. Very interesting. Thanks.

  3. The video game correlation did not occur to you until after you posted? It was literally, the first thought that popped into my head after reading that it had the highest number of female viewers.