Internet traffic data reports: science or marketing hype?

Internet traffic reports aim to sway public analysis and perception of reported data.

Statistical data holds a powerful allure. Numbers are believed to provide “ascertainable totals” and to represent “abstract mathematical systems.”

In “Data attraction: hard science, or numbers game?” I question the validity of publicly available Internet data and the public’s reliance on such data.

In “Yahoo, Google question 'reality' and 'precision' of external data reports” I cite Yahoo CFO and EVP, Finance and Administration, Sue Decker on Com Score’s reporting of Yahoo’s search market share:

I think it's important to point out that we think we have been doing very consistently and very solidly in our search market share. The issue has been that the numbers that you all are looking at from an external perspective, the COM Score numbers, don't necessarily reflect the reality of what our own log files talk about. I raised that issue last quarter. We are pleased that COM Score is looking at that, and they are getting closer to what we see as our reality, based on some of the recent revisions they made. But the year-over-year trends are still very distorted in what they are showing and what we have.

Ironically, Yahoo has now recruited ComScore Media Metrix CEO Peter Daboll, according to AdWeek reports:

Daboll will serve as chief of insights and global market research, a newly created position. He will work with the company's product development, ad sales and marketing teams. Daboll reports to Cammie Dunaway, Yahoo's chief marketing officer.

Concurrently, comScore Media Metrix has created a headlining data story, “Online Video Officially Goes Mainstream as YouTube.com Breaks Into the comScore Media Metrix Top 50”:

Most noteworthy, however, was the popularity of online video, which continued to gain steam in July, as Youtube.com broke into the comScore Media Metrix Top 50 for the first time, debuting at number 40 with 16 million visitors, a 20-percent increase versus June. Video-mania also drove a two-fold increase in traffic to MySpace Videos, which had 20 million visitors, trailing only Yahoo! Video with 21.1 million visitors (up 28-percent from June).

comScore does not merely report its data. The company also puts forth subjective projections of the commercial market potential for online video and promotes online ad spending:

‘Consumers clearly view video as one of the most accessible, interesting and entertaining sources of content on the Web,’ said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix. ‘The trends we’re witnessing indicate that online video is emerging from its infancy and entering the mainstream. Many publishers and advertisers are responding to this trend, which means advertising dollars will continue to migrate online where consumers can be targeted with efficiency.'

comScore makes no secret of the business development underpinnings of its Internet traffic data reports. According to the company:

Who We Are

comScore Networks Provides Unparalleled Insight into Consumer Behavior

comScore Networks is a global information provider and consultancy to which leading companies turn for consumer behavior insight that drives successful marketing, sales and trading strategies. comScore’s experienced industry experts and analysts work closely with clients to identify their business objectives and determine how they can best apply and benefit from comScore’s consulting services and vast databases of consumer behavior.

comScore is committed to helping our clients achieve maximum return on their information and market research investments.

comScore Mission

comScore’s mission is to leverage the power of the Internet to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our clients’ sales and marketing efforts. We help our clients generate superior ROI by providing knowledge of customers, competitors and markets that aids in the design and execution of more powerful sales and marketing strategies.

In line with its client-focused business development mission, comScore releases are not designed to simply report statistical data, they aim to sway public analysis and perception of the comScore generated data.

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