Are they really your traffic/user figures???

September 29, 2006

Techdirt (one of my favourite blogs) carries a story asking whether we need a new type of auditor to validate the wild claims of traffic and user figures that are coming out of the web 2.0 world at the moment. It’s a very good question, but sadly not one that will be solved by an auditor.

Sites are claiming hundreds of thousands of visitors a day and millions of registered users. Figures that make the VC’s and investment guys go weak at the knees, but make many savvy web people snigger and wonder how anyone falls for it!

Traffic is easily inflated, many of the online marketing campaigns of the moment are designed purely to drive huge volumes of traffic to your website with no regards for the quality of that traffic. I don’t see these sites quoting average page views per visitor, or average length of time a user spends on a website, which are both key in my eyes to how popular a site really is! For instance, I recently trialed a pop-under campaign (I know, not the nicest form of advertising, but we needed traffic and sales) and the visitor numbers went through the roof, but average page views etc plummeted (it did have a halo effect on sales, so proved quite useful), so it’s really easy to bump those figures up!

The other measure I’d question (even on the big sites MySpace and Facebook) is the number of registered users. Rather than just reporting on how many user accounts there are they need to start quoting in active user accounts (ie. ones that people log in to at least once a week). I’m an example of one of these surplus users they are counting! I’ve signed up to all these sites just to see what they are like, but after a few visits I don’t go back again.

So come on web 2.0 and community sites! Give us some meaningful figures that really show just how big you guys are!


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