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Web Site Metrics, Statistics and Analytics

by Enrique De Argaez, webmaster

For 55 years Nielsen Media Research has been meticulously measuring the habits of TV viewers in many countries of the world, for the benefit of advertisers that want to place ads on TV. But now that entertainment in the form of TV, music, and videos are appearing online in our computers, Nielsen doesn't dominate the business of counting website viewers. There are close to 100 companies battling it out online to become the Nielsen of the Web. The competition is intense in Internet.

In the TV Ratings field, in which networks battle for the most viewers, Nielsen holds a monopoly as the official scorekeeper. But on the Internet, Nielsen is right there in competition with names like comScore, Hitwise, and others which measure the number of "unique visitors," or "UVs," to a given Web site, the browsers used for viewing it, and other relevant metrics.

But why the fuss over collecting data on which web sites you visit, how long you stay and what you do during your visits? The answer is simply that "data equal dollars". As in television, where Nielsen ratings are a key measure for setting the price and placement of commercials, UV numbers are used to help determine Web advertising rates and positioning. But the importance of the data goes beyond that. It is very important to calibrate the value of the audience: what do they do online, what purchases do they make, what bills do they pay, what are their viewing hours and their habits online.

Such information is used by many people, from Web site publishers, to online retailers like, to media companies that provide Web "content," to venture capitalists looking for the next MySpace. Using Internet statistics and metrics as R&D data, you will be in a better position to determine what part of the web content is appealing to audiences, and what is not of interest to the UV.

There is much data to be extracted from Internet use. One of the attractive features of the Web is that you can track everything. There are specialized companies that provide the tracking services to web site operators with real-time data(for a fee) supplying the number of UVs who visit a site, the pages they view, and the ads they click on, among other things.

Each of the major measuring firms has its own technology and strategy. For example, Omniture's measures are based on technology that counts computers, not people, an approach that can lead to double-counting of UVs (such is the case when the same user contacts a Web site from work and then from his home). On the other hand, since panel data by definition are extrapolations, the counts produced by Net-Ratings and comScore can be substantially off, some website publishers say. Everybody is looking for is consistency within each vendor.

Still it is hard to capture demographic details on visitors, or to provide clients with comparable information from competitors' Web sites. That's the domain of Nielsen's NetRatings and comScore, among others, which collect data from diverse panels of Web surfers who have installed software on their computers that tracks their Internet use. The makeup of the panels, in theory, mirrors the universe of Internet users, which allows the firms to extrapolate from the data they capture. In short, this is the Internet equivalent of the Nielsen ratings, with NetRatings and comScore putting out monthly rankings of the most-visited Web sites, most-streamed videos and such.

Industry groups like the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Online Publishers Association have also been trying to establish measurement guidelines. As in counting TV viewers, totaling up UVs will require to keep an eye peeled for the statistics.

The following are links to the websites of several companies and associations engaged in the Internet metrics field, some of them provide free reports and metrics:
  • comScore
    Maintains massive proprietary databases that provide a continuous, real-time measurement of the myriad ways in which the Internet is used and the wide variety of activities that are occurring online.

  • Omniture The Omniture Online Business Optimization Platform provides customers with the ability to collect, integrate, analyze, and automate the reporting and distribution of multi-channel business information and processes. Placing the data and tools in the hands of business users across all levels empowers organizations to make more informed, real-time, data-driven decisions to increase revenue and lower costs.

  • Nielsen Net Ratings
    Nielsen//NetRatings services define the global standard in online audience measurement. You can rely on the syndicated, customized media and market research

  • Hitwise
    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 how more people visit more websites than any other way of measuring Internet usage.

  • IWS - Internet World Stats
    Global Internet usage data from over 233 countries and territories, arranged in useful statistical tables. The IWS web site features many Internet metrics for free online viewing.

  • Compete Search
    A different style of search engine that helps you find sites and also shows you how safe, popular and valuable each site is. extends the search algorithms, creating useful new information that can help answer questions like: Is this website safe from spyware and other threats like phishing? How many people visit this site and how does it compare to other sites? Are there promotion codes for this site that can save me money? An interesting concept based on click sharing. The Compete search is powered by Yahoo!

  • IAB - Interactive Advertising Bureau
    Global nonprofit group open to companies actively engaged in the sale of interactive advertising and marketing. The IAB is an association dedicated to helping online, Interactive broadcasting, email, wireless and Interactive television media companies increase their revenues.

  • OPA - Online Publishers Association
    The OPA publishes the Internet Activity Index (IAI) which provides a new way of looking at consumer engagement online, dividing Internet usage into four distinct activities: content, communications, commerce and search.

I hope you have found this article useful and of interest.

About the Author:
Enrique De Argaez is the webmaster of the
"Internet World Stats" website. Since 2000 he has been collecting Internet Usage Statistics for over 233 countries and regions of the world, and publishing the data for free use by the academia, the global business community and the general public. For more information on Internet World Usage, visit his site at:

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