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T-Squared: More Traffic — and Money — in 2012

Last year we logged record site traffic and blew through what we all agreed was an overly ambitious fundraising goal. We are truly grateful, as ever, for your support.

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Before we get on with what will surely be a happy new year — right, 83rd Lege? — let's pause a moment to celebrate the Tribune's considerable accomplishments of the happy old year. In 2012, I'm pleased to report, the Trib logged record site traffic, with significant increases in unique visitors and visits, and blew through what we all agreed was an overly ambitious fundraising goal, exceeding our projections for major gifts, membership and corporate underwriting.

Here are the big numbers. In 2012 we had nearly 10.1 million visits to our site, an increase of nearly 6 percent over 2011 and more than 154 percent over 2010 — the last non-legislative-session year. More than 5.7 million unique visitors in '12 represented a nearly 11 percent increase over '11 and 158 percent more than '10. We also held firm on page views last year, once again topping the 40 million mark. More visitors and the same page views are a good sign for those of us who care about public service journalism, because our enterprise reporting is increasingly as much of a draw as our data interactives.

Other fun facts:

* Our top five traffic-generating cities in 2012  were Austin (16.97 percent), Houston (11.87 percent), Dallas (6.60 percent), San Antonio (4.68 percent) and New York (2.07 percent). How nice that Austinites — i.e., insiders — are now less than one-fifth of our audience.

* Facebook drove roughly 2.5 times the number of visits to our site as Twitter did.

* The Huffington Post referred more traffic to our site than Google did. (Thanks, Arianna.)

* Nearly a quarter of our traffic came from mobile views.

* Our five most popular stories of last year (in terms of page views) were a Jay Root report on infighting among presidential candidate Rick Perry's advisers; a Ross Ramsey column about the electoral rejection of Perry and David Dewhurst; Ross' write-up of the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll finding that Rick Santorum was crushing the GOP primary field in Texas; and two Emily Ramshaw stories — one about a Victoria hospital accused of refusing to hire the obese, and another about Gov. Perry's threat that Texas would refuse to implement key elements of the Affordable Care Act.

On the fundraising side, we hoped upon hope to generate $4.508 million in revenue from a variety of sources, and instead we ended the year at $4.537 million — far and away the most we've ever collected in a single year. (That number may grow, as we tally late-arriving checks and pledges) Corporate underwriting, through site and events sponsorships, was responsible for nearly $1.9 million, or more than one-third of the total. Major giving (gifts of at least $5,ooo) came in at $960,000. And membership, budgeted at $500,000, actually brought in more than $518,000 — $120,000 more than last year. (To see all of our donors and corporate sponsors, go here.)

Meanwhile, our expenses were about $150,000 less than what we projected. We now expect them to be somewhere below $4.2 million, meaning we can formally declare 2012 our first full year in which revenues exceeded what we spent. Next year should be even more quote-unquote profitable.

We are truly grateful, as ever, for your support. We'll ask for it again this year. And we intend to earn it.

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