Forget Votes, How Do You Count Visitors?
from the take-a-wild-guess... dept
In the early days of the web, one of the big issues was how to accurately count visitors (though, idiotically, many people put more emphasis on “hits” over visitors). It appears that issue has never really been solved. At Techdirt, we use two different tools to analyze our visitors — both working off the same log file and they come up with vastly different answers on the “how many unique visitors” question. I haven’t decided whether to just believe one over the other or simply average the two results. In the meantime, I ignore the issue and concentrate, instead, on the trends. It appears that bigger sites with a lot more money than we have are experiencing the same problem, with a slight twist in the form of companies selling reports on how much traffic a website gets. While log files tell one story, reports from Nielsen and Media Metrix tell another, and if one thing’s clear it’s that a site’s log file, Media Metrix report and Nielsen report are unlikely to come anywhere close to agreeing on how many visitors any site has. They don’t agree on methodologies, and the end result is that no one really trusts any of the numbers, but they still buy them. In the article, it’s suggested that the industry boycott both of these providers until they can give more accurate results, but that’s never going to happen. Instead, companies will continue to do what they always do: watch the trends for themselves while cherry picking the most impressive looking numbers for publicity/self-delusional purposes.