How Many Site Hits? Depends Who’s Counting

How many people visited, the online home of Vogue and W magazines, last month? Was it 421,000, or, more optimistically, 497,000? Or was the real number more than three times higher, perhaps 1.8 million? Even though online advertising is growing fast, that growth is being stunted, industry executives say, because nobody can get the basic visitor counts straight. >>Full Story

Thoughts// An interesting story from today’s NYT about the discrepancy in web traffic numbers reported by publishers and independent audit firms such as ComScore or Nielsen/NetRatings. Both these companies track the traffic patterns of representative panels of people, and use then use those numbers to extrapolate the total number of visitors to a site. Unfortunately, as most online marketers are frustrating aware, the numbers crunched out by panels are vastly different (lower!) that those that we retrieve from our servers.

Now throw in the fact that each analytics tool has its own definition for “visitor” and “unique visitor”….and you’ve got a conundrum of epic proportions. Perhaps, the recent efforts to standardize analytics by the Web Analytics Association (as reported by this blog) might help; but we’ve yet to see how this translates uniformly across an advertising platform.

On a side note, this is a mystery that Travel Oregon is unfortunately all too familiar with. We’ve been on a quest to show the growth in the online “market share” of our digital efforts but as this article points out, none of the third party sources we’ve looked at (ComScore, Hitbox) confirms our metrics as reported by Google Analytics and HBX.

If any of you out there have done “market share” analysis of your interactive programs, I’m all ears!

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