Web Measurements: What’s Real?

Businessweek publishes an overly sensational, overplayed story about Web metrics. "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 gain. 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.

I should stop kidding myself: this debate will rage forever in the news media, over and over again.

(Obvious disclosure: I work in Web metrics, for a Web metrics company.)


Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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