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The Web Traffic Measurement Mess

October 17, 2006


BusinessWeek has a good piece on the Web Traffic Measurement quagmire.  Meebo certainly isn’t the first company to face this.

If any of you out there has figured all this out, please let me know.

My personal take is that the measurement services deliberately obfuscate things in order to shake web companies down for business. Without naming names, I’ve recently seen some emails from one such provider making this disturbingly evident.


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  1. October 17, 2006

    Hi VCMike,
    (Disclosure: I work for a Web measurement company, and have a history of working at them.)

    Businessweek’s story on Web measurement is sensational and overplayed. “Web metrics, like company valuations, will remain a crapshoot,” is the conclusion. What is this, year 2000 all over again?

    Magid Abraham of comScore (for whom I used to work) summed the issue up nicely in a recent comment to Mediaweek regarding Web panel measurements versus Web site log files:

    “One might liken this to using a single watch to measure time. With only one watch, you really don’t know if the time is off—or by how much—so you have a false sense of accuracy even though the time could be significantly off. On the other hand, if you have two watches, you are almost always going to see a difference between the two time estimates, which leads you to question what time it really is…and which watch is right.”

    So perhaps the problem is not metrics, but competitive humans who blatantly twist, cite and omit numbers for their own gainn (on the buy and sell side of the metrics business). Reporters often use metrics because they think those numbers anchor their story, which is true. But the fact is that metrics can be interpreted many different ways.

    One of the positive things about the so-called disagreement over Web metrics: there are many ways to understand digital usage behaviors, and the perpetual metrics disagreement actually serves as a form of check-and-balances, for fairness and to keep the measurements industry innovating. But a crapshoot? Come on! That’s simply naïve.

    The reality is that there are more and better metrics today than every before. And if you take the time to understand their nuances and what they’re actually measuring, they you see that they rarely confict as much as this Business Week story likes to claim. How can anyone take a story about measurements seriously if it even breathes the word Alexa. I’m not saying Alexa is worthless, but it is what it is.

    I’m dissapointed with this Businessweek story.


  2. Kyle #
    October 18, 2006

    “Without naming names, I’ve recently seen some emails from one such provider making this disturbingly evident.”

    All I’ll say is that based on my experience, I would be shocked if you were talking about anyone but Nielsen.

  3. October 18, 2006


    Thanks for your comment. Maybe the story was a bit hyped, but as an investor in several ad-supported online ventures, I must say I find it tough to get a handle on how my companies’ traffic really compares to their competitors. I am absolutely willing to take the time to understand the nuances — do you have any suggested resources/methodologies?

  4. October 23, 2006

    I think that it first starts with: what question are you seeking to ask? There are more data points which means more ways to understand. But digital clicks — such as discussed in the BW sotry — is only one way to measure equity. There also are other key factors, including buzz, loyalty, sales, net promotion, etc. I’d be happy to take this offline. Data integration is the holy grail, incorporating both passive and active collection of behavioral residue.


  5. Fedochenko #
    January 2, 2010

    Классные мультфильмы бесплатно на Кинозоуне.

  6. April 22, 2011

    This was a great post .. useful and informative ..keep up good work !!

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