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Web measurement company Quantcast has announced the launch of the “Quantcast Media Program” today. Quantcast describes the media program as, “connect(ing) Marketers and Publishers using consistent, actionable and accurate data applied at the impression level.”
From the release, “The Quantcast solution applies marketers’ unique customer interaction data from their media campaigns, search activity and brand website visitation to discover the distinctive audience characteristics of their most valuable consumer segments. Lookalike models then identify larger, similar consumer groups across the web. Marketers connect with publisher inventory to purchase these audience definitions, in real time, at scale. Quantcast Media Program maximizes marketer budgets by consistently reaching the right audience and expands the range of advertisers for which publishers can successfully deliver audiences.”
The Media Program is part of the Quantcast Marketer program which launched in April.
It appears that the program has been in a private status through today. The signup page notes that if you work with an agency, you will get fast track access.
Back in the old days of the Internet, it was relatively simple to compare site A to site B. Of course most sites fibbed on their numbers, but traffic was traffic. A user would visit a site and record a hit or a pageview. There were no embed options, no video players on multiple sites, no widgets, no Ajax.
Then we received Alexa and later on sites like Compete and Quantcast. Each one has its pros and cons, though most agree that Alexa is the worst of the bunch. Quantcast has the most promise of a real comparison because they let you put the tracking code directly on your site or blog. But the issue with Quantcast is this: why should I put Quantcast on my site, when my competitors don’t and they may wind up overreporting because they take Quantcast’s default numbers.
Last night I had dinner with a great group of people, mostly fashion bloggers, and we discussed widgets for a bit. The big issue with widgets and widget advertising is how will reporting and analytics work. Without a strong reporting engine, sell-in to agencies will be very difficult. It’s easy to look at traditional Web ads on site A and site B and see which one performs better. But what about with widgets? How do you compare effectiveness?
Last night, Mike Arrington posted an article about white-label social networking company Flux and their apparent huge increase in traffic. A chart from comScore shows an enormous increase in traffic for Flux from November 2007 forward. Arrington suggests that the traffic increase is due to, "Flux … had the benefit of not only Viacom’s money but also their brands – at launch hundreds of Viacom properties launched Flux social networks, including their MTV brands."
While I can’t give you 100% proof that this is what’s happening and I certainly hope that it isn’t, this discussion is the most recent example of why we need a real comparison engine. One that can properly handle today’s technologies.
When I met with KickApps to discuss their latest release we discussed comparisons to Ning. It’s not easy to compare KickApps to Ning in that KA isn’t hosted on kickapps.com whereas Ning hosts all of their social networks on ning.com.
The real issue is when advertisers, public relations teams, writers, journalists, etc., make decisions based on numbers they read on one of the current comparison engines alone. I’ve seen it hundreds of times over the past decade, especially with agencies pitching a site to advertise on. Of course, the site in the lead is happy to point you to one of the current comparison engines to show off how great they are. Perhaps there is a startup opportunity here. Not as sexy as a Facebook poke app, but could be very valuable to the industry at large.
Web measurement company Quantcast has launched a new measurement tool for widgets and videos. They note, "Video and Widget Measurement: We now offer free video and widget measurement services with the ability to track any Flash-based file – including games. These new capabilities help you track the web-wide distribution of your media elements and demonstrate your true network reach."
Check out the specifications for the ActionScript tags if you are interested in implementation.
I like Quantcast and believe they could be the big winner in this space but they need everyone to use the tool to be effective. If 10 sites in an industry use it and the other 80 don't, it's not going to produce effective industry reporting. But compared to Alexa (and to a good extent Compete) it's pretty awesome.
I get various requests from time to time asking me which analytics applications. So here is my list of the current analytics applications I use on my web sites with a short bit of commentary on each one. They are not listed in any particular order. You can also check out my previous post which offers several free and almost-free analytics options. I don’t believe most Web sites need the insane number of tools I run but each one offers me something unique and, in addition, I like to test as well.
Clicky is currently my favorite analytics application. The interface is excellent, has a Web 2.0 feel to it without going overboard. The best features are the real-time spy and the IP user lookup. The user maps and location information is very detailed giving you insights into where your users are, how they access your site, and what they do on your site.
- The basic account is limited to 1,000 pageviews per day. Most users will want the $2.99 plan.
- There is an affiliate program which earns credits towards free premium memberships.
- Support is great and the site is very user-friendly.
- Clicky is also running an API contest currently. So far I know of one entry at ideAjax which basically is a sweet world map.
eXTReMe Tracking has the absolute best user lookup tools that I have found to-date. If you want to be able to look at individual users and their patterns, eXTReMe Tracking does this very well. The rest of the app is strong, but not the strongest of the tools listed.
- The free account is limited and requires you to place a graphic on your site. The pro account is $4.50 a month.
- The "on the map" feature is the best user mapping tool I have tried. In fact, Dateline NBC used it on a sting operation last year.
- The site does have a short learning curve and the interface layout could be improved.
I have used Google Analytics since they first launched and the new version is very powerful. I don’t love GA but keep it running because it is generally the best comparison from site-to-site.
- Some users report that the Goals options don’t always track correctly
- I am not crazy about Google controlling every aspect of my site including the site traffic.
- Overall, this is the most popular analytics app for three reasons: Google’s trust level, their ability to market it thru the AdWords program and that the app is free.
I like Mint. It is the fastest of the analytics applications listed and it runs on your local server. I used to believe it was better to keep everything on your local server with regards to analytics apps, but today there ASP model apps have really improved their ability to track and not lose data.
- There is no free plan, $30 gets you a license for the current x.y version. Once x is upgraded, the charge is $15.
- There is an excellent support community who can help with support and extending the app.
- Mint offers "Peppers" which are basically add-ons to extend the functionality of the app. Most are built by the Mint community.
Quantcast is the odd man out in this grouping. Quantcast doesn’t provide as much detail as the above and is really used as a ranking and evaluation tool. Sites that use their plugin are called "Quantified Publishers" on the site. Frankly I wish more sites would use this because then it could create more fair comparisons. Quantcast is what Alexa wishes it would be.
I left Complete off the list because I am currently working with them to attempt to rectify the reporting issues on CN. Once they have corrected the issues, I will post my thoughts on Complete. I have not included the "professional" level packages such as Webtrends, Omniture and WebSideStory. Lastly, many web hosting packages provide basic metrics applications. I didn’t include these because I find that they are generally worthless and out-of-date.
What tools are you using? Is it one (or more) of the above? Are there others I should be reviewing/testing?
About two months ago, Cn became a "quantified publisher" when I placed the Quantcast code on the site. Checking the stats today, it notes that the site's rank is: 32,917 right between two porn sites (WTF!). Interesting.
Anyway, after checking Quantcast's ranking for Cn, I popped over to the highly buzzed-about site Compete. Surely they will be pretty close right? Nope. Compete shows a rank of 202,430 with 6,000 visitors in April 2007. Blech. I also note that Compete now links over to AboutUs.org for more information. Double Blech.
And last but certainly not least, let's check Alexa. Certainly a company with a slogan of, "The Web Information Company" must have it right. They show Cn with a current rank of 26,970.
I know this is a simple comparison but it shows that these Web reporting applications are clearly not 100% correct and I still say the same thing I have said since the late '90s. Which is that I don't trust them for making deals. Alexa and Quantcast appear to be close but does that mean they are right? Compete seems the furthest off, especially with their monthly user count which is absolutely not correct.
Why do these inaccuracies affect Cn in the wallet? Because potential advertisers might check these sites and see that Cn has lower traffic numbers than I quote to them. Will we ever see lawsuits by companies who are affected by poor ranking and public analytics apps? I am guessing, yes.