The teenage dotcom millionaire and his ever increasing page impressions

Creative thinking

We ran a story on Ben Cohen's new porn search engine on Tuesday and raised an eyebrow as his wibbly wobbly claims of success grew ever more removed from reality.

Benny boy claims to have 50,000 subscribers to his porn search site, even though it hasn't even launched. We reckoned this was a load of cobblers. We also thought that his incredible claims of 420 million page impressions for his Cyberbritain.com portal came straight out of La-La land. And going further back, the sale of Jewishnet for an implied £5 million is peculiar (although this was in the crazy days of Web optimism).

So what's the harm in doing a bit of a check? We used Alexa Research's very nice tool to get an approximation as to the traffic going through Mr Cohen's Cyberbritain portal. Alexa works in the same sort of way as TV ratings - a small number of people are continually tracked as to where they go and what they see and then these results are extrapolated to come up with a real-world figure.

It's a well-recognised way of measuring popularity and just as good (if not better) than most of these surveys that claim some kind of authority over Internet usage. We tested it out in fact. The Register was given a monthly hit rate of 14.2 million, which is pretty close. We tried out others (which, sadly, we can't tell you about because people would lose their jobs) and they were pretty darn close too.

And so what of the 420 million hit claim of Mr Cohen? Well, Cyberbritain.com has managed a staggering 62,000 page impressions a month. The portal is run on technology provided by Hermia.com. Hermia.com does a little better: 117,000 impressions a month. The other portals that are tied in with the Cyberbritain portal - BritishMP3.co.uk, SoAsian.com, KosherSex.co.uk, SexySearch.co.uk, JewishNet.co.uk and DesktopLawyer.net - don't even register.

Now, it's not perfect, but even if we were to give the other portals a friendly figure of, say, 20,000 impressions a month, and then count all the impressions of all the portals together - well, we're looking at three years in total before we get to 420 million pages.

When we voiced our initial scepticism in February last year, Ben called us up complaining. We learned that the 420 million page count was from July 1998 til then. However, that is still 19 months worth of counting. Using figures almost a year down the line (and far from start-up), we still reckon that he'd need 36 months to reach 420 million.

The thing is that Young Cohen is now of adult age. We're sure that he can justify his figures in some way and hasn't actually fibbed as such. But it's foolish to think that what worked once will work again. ®

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