by Carlo Longino

More Calls For Web Traffic Audits

from the follow-the-money dept

There have been some questions raised in the past about just how reliable the traffic and user stats thrown around by plenty of web sites are, and as ad dollars have flowed online, there's a growing interest among marketers in verifying those stats. Besides sites having good reasons to inflate their figures, there are other issues: for instance, there are plenty of different ways to count traffic (such as unique visitors vs. page views), and different stats packages often report very different numbers. Even the third-party measurement services that many companies use can't agree on traffic levels, so the Interactive Advertising Bureau is asking comScore and Nielsen/NetRatings to submit to outside audits of their services and methods, so publishers have a more transparent view of how the companies count their audience. The IAB's president notes that the companies have resisted calls for such an audit since 1999, so he understands he's facing an uphill battle. But with publishers wanting more transparency so they can be assured their audience isn't being undercounted, and advertisers demanding more transparency to be sure that audience isn't overcounted, it's likely that something will have to give. The amount of money flowing into online advertising makes it a certainty that better and more accurate traffic stats will emerge, whether from comScore and Nielsen/NetRatings, or other, more willing providers -- particularly since a number of large advertisers have set a deadline of 2008 for sites on which they buy ads to have their ad impressions audited by a third party.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Republican Gun, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 4:21am

    Niche Markets

    Many websites serve niche markets that may not produce mega trafic compared to large behemoths. Niche markets sites though, have targeted traffic in which targeted ads do much better than crappy banner ads on Yahoo, youtube and other stupid sites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    moe, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 4:26am

    Fark/Drudge is a good example

    A year or so ago Drew Curtis, found of Fark.com, was interested in how The Drudge Report generated so much web traffic compared to Fark.com. Both were counting page views, but he noticed that the Drudge Report website auto-refreshed the page every "x" seconds, whereas Fark.com did not.

    So, Drew added an auto-refresh to the Fark.com site and lo and behold, the traffic skyrocketed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mark, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 4:53am

    Re: Fark/Drudge is a good example

    Only a year or so ago? I would have guessed that it would have been done many years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    moe, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Fark/Drudge is a good example

    I'm going from memory, but it wasn't years ago.

    Also, I figured I'd mention that Drew turned the auto-refresh off again. He just wanted to see how Drudge was getting such high numbers. Once he figured it out, Fark.com went back to "normal."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Overcast, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 6:09am

    The best thing of all about the internet is the amount of grief it causes the 'powers to be'. lol

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    RandomThoughts, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 6:37am

    Numbers by themselves don't really matter. If I have a highly targeted audience, my market will be smaller. If I am a CPG advertiser with broad appeal, I will have a larger market.

    Big numbers by themselves don't really matter, its how many in the target audience that really matter.

    I would rather have 1,000 targeted visitors that I am really trying to reach than 1 million visitors outside my target audience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Matt, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 2:34pm

    This is long overdue.

    As one of the largest sites in the web with millions of unique visitors, we've had our traffic constantly undercounted by comscore (the gold standard for advertisers).

    Unfortunately, as publishers, we have no recourse with comscore and no insight into their methodology or panel/sample size.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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