NEWS25 January 2010

ComScore defends against Mahalo CEO’s boycott call

Data analytics North America

US— ComScore was forced on the defensive this weekend when the CEO of search engine Mahalo urged a boycott of the web measurement firm over its decision to charge websites for inclusion in its hybrid measurement system, Media Metrix 360.

Internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis expressed dismay at the fee levied on companies wishing to have their sites measured by the new system, which combines the firm’s traditional panel-based data with server-side counts of web traffic – leading to what ComScore claims is a more accurate picture of a website’s actual audience number.

“For over a decade, I’ve railed against our industry’s leading metrics company ComScore with little result,” said Calacanis, writing in his blog. “I listened to company after company from Silicon Alley to Silicon Valley complain about how ComScore’s method of counting traffic websites, via a sample of users, was incorrect. People couldn’t understand why the internet industry, with its ability to track traffic perfectly, would ever adopt the failed sample-based methods used on television and radio.”

He continued: “ComScore is now willing to do real metrics on your website if you give them $10,000 a year… This after they spent the last decade criticising the direct measurement methods of their competitors like Quantcast and Google Analytics as being flawed! Now they say pixel tracking – actual measurement on the server side – is the best method. What a bunch of slim [sic] buckets.”

ComScore’s head of product management Linda Abraham hit back in the comments section, dismissing Calacanis’s assertion that the hybrid measurement of Media Metrix 360 is “mere pixel tracking”. “Our panel, which allows us to distinguish people from cookies, is a central part of the system used to correct for the inflation of cookie-based server-side data,” she said.

Abraham said Calacanis was also confused about the pricing of the system. The $10,000 he referred to, she said, was for ongoing access to ComScore’s reporting system while the initial Media Metrix 360 set-up fee was $5,000 – including six months’ access to the reporting system.

“We make no apologies for charging for access to our reporting system,” said Abraham. “That is the only revenue source we have to cover our costs.”

Other weighed in, not necessarily to support ComScore but to take Calacanis to task for his claim that the internet industry has the “ability to track traffic perfectly”. One user, Stu Miller, wrote: “I find it stunning that many don’t understand the simple fact that website server data without massive editing and cleaning is completely inflated in all of its metrics.”

Quoting web analytics expert Eric Peterson, Miller said: “It’s about time that we all agreed that ‘unique visitor’ reports coming from census-based [i.e. website server] technologies frequently have no basis in reality.”

Read the full post and the ensuing debate, discussion and argument here. Abraham also posted a response of sorts on the ComScore company blog here.


1 Comment

14 years ago

This article says a lot more about the complainant than the research company. Anyone who claims 'perfect measurement' is a fool. We all know that panel-based measures are not perfect - particularly relating to at-work access, but they produce more believable data than server-based traffic measures. And ironically, panel-based is getting better with hybrid techniques while server-based is getting worse as cookies proliferate.

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