The New York Times reports on Forbes.com‘s troubles with determining how many users visit the site and who they are, a trend I predict is likely to increase in coming days with other media outlets.
All evidence suggests that advertisers are becoming increasingly concerned with the accuracy of measuring users’ activities. The Audit Bureau of Circulation is pushing a web data initiative, as is the traditionally broadcast-only Nielsen ratings.
Editors and managers should be taking a hard, honest look at where their traffic comes from and whether it will be able to stand up naked in its full glory to advertisers. Fortunately, many newspapers seem committed to building local traffic, not just focusing on raw page views.
On Forbes, the NYTimes reports:
“A closer look at the numbers raises questions about Forbes.comâ€™s industry-leading success. For its claim of a worldwide audience of nearly 15.3 million, it has been citing February data from comScore Media Metrix, one of the two leading providers of third-party Web traffic data.
There are several problems with that statistic, though, and comScore has since revised the figure downward to less than 13.2 million as part of a broader revamping of its worldwide data for many sites. Jack Flanagan, executive vice president at comScore Media Metrix, said the new figures were released â€œa couple of months agoâ€ after it changed its methods for estimating global audiences.
There is also the question, given Forbes.comâ€™s user figures, of where those visitors were going. According to comScore, 45 percent of its February traffic went to ForbesAutos.com, a companion Web site heavy on car reviews and photos. About three-quarters of the ForbesAutos.com traffic came from outside the United States.”