The debate I sparked over the holiday weekend with my "Digg v.3, Who needs the New York Times?” is larger than Digg vs. The New York Times.
My story questioned the validity of relying on an Alexa-based chart to conclude that a 15 person Social Web start-up, which itself does not gather, or report on, any news, is on track to displace the 1200 person New York Times worldwide newsroom with its $200 million news gathering budget.
While it would seem that no statistics are necessary to conclude that The New York Times is in no near-term danger of being displaced by Digg as the world’s “newspaper of record,” in profiling Digg v. 3, Michael Arrington, of TechCrunch, referenced Alexa statistics in stating Digg is: “looking more and more like the newspaper of the web, and is challenging even the New York Times on page views.”
In my “Digg v.3, Who needs the New York Times?” I discuss "Important Disclaimers" Alexa, itself, states regarding the reliability of "Alexa Traffic Rankings”:
The traffic data are based on the set of toolbars that use Alexa data, which may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. Known biases include (but are likely not limited to)…
In my "Digg vs. The New York Times: record lead for 'newspaper of record' story I discuss data released by Hitwise, yesterday, based on its sample of 10 million Internet users:
The share of page impressions for the NY Times was 19 times greater than for Digg for that week…put the NY Times on the same chart as Digg, Digg's traffic would look tiny and relatively flat
Hitwise in “How We Do It” describes its methodology:
There are three principle ways to measure Internet usage. A panel of users can be measured at their computers with installed software (user-centric), marketers can monitor how visitors interact with a specific website (site-centric), or data can be collected directly from ISP networks (network-centric).
The network-centric methodology employed by Hitwise enables the most efficient way of monitoring of how more people visit more websites than any other way of measuring Internet usage.
Hitwise has developed proprietary software that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use to analyze website usage logs created on their network. The anonymous data sent to Hitwise from the ISPs include a range of industry standard metrics relating to the viewing of websites including page requests, visits and average visit length.
Hitwise also combines this rich ISP data with a worldwide opt-in panel to overlay demographic, lifestyle and transactional behavior across the thousands of websites that are reported on every day.
Because of the extensive sample size of network data, Hitwise can also provide detailed insights into the search terms used to find thousands of sites as well as a range of clickstream reports, analyzing the movements of visitors between sites.
Hitwise collects aggregate usage statistics from a geographically diverse range of ISP networks in metropolitan and regional areas, representing all types of Internet usage including home, work, educational and public access.
To ensure the ISP and opt-in data is accurate and representative, it is weighted to universe estimates in each market.
Hitwise only extracts aggregate information from ISP networks and no personal information is seen or captured by Hitwise in accordance with local and international privacy guidelines. Hitwise's methodology is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers on an annual basis.