The Mystery of Web Statistics

January 24th, 2007 | Categories: social media, trends

GraphFor centuries, believers and non-believers alike have argued over the existence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and UFO’s among others things. But these mysterious phenomenon have been overshadowed by the biggest mystery of all… web statistics.

This enigma is even more prominent in the new web landscape. Start-ups are not known for sharing their page views, visits, or uniques… or more importantly their user base.

Even if a start-up does choose to share these coveted statistics, manipulation can transpire. Straight-up lying can manifest as no third-party auditing is being performed. Moreover, numbers can be skewed and morphed to the liking of the company. Sure, you may claim to have 2 million registered accounts, but if only 50,000 users sign in in a given month, we’re talking about a whole different story. And thank God the days of web 1.0 and ‘hits’ have passed. Otherwise, companies would still be glorifying these meaningless statistics.

Yet, let it be known, not all companies choose to hide their stats. The big guys (MySpace, Craigslist, Wikipedia, etc…) tend to divulge their metrics without hesitation. This is for obvious reasons. They have ‘made it’. Once a company is producing, say, 1+ billion page views per month, they’re more than happy to share their stats and bask in the glory.

But for the little guys, it’s the opposite. It’s almost like encountering a bear in the woods. Look big. Shy away. Don’t let it be known that you’re actually smaller than you appear to be.

Some interesting points to note:

  • AJAX is causing a stir around web statistics, as a page load is not needed. This will not only force changes in terms of web standards, but more importantly for advertisers and publishers. A new system/metric may will be needed.
  • Traffic information aggregators such Alexa, Hitwise, Comscore, and Compete are all trying to solve the web statistic mystery, but to no avail. Although they must be praised for their efforts and relative rankings, the only way to truly solve this problem is by having the individual sites open up their statistics and allow third-party tracking/auditing.

In the end, a chameleon company is only kidding itself. By trying to appear larger than it actually it, it is no farther ahead than its actual statistics. Without revenues, the company will fail. And if the company chooses to try and acquire financing or put itself up for sale, a due diligence process will be carried out by the prospective company or investor… upon which the truth will come out.

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