As the CEO of a Group Buying business in the nascent and burgeoning category it was critical that I had a very clear view of marketing effectiveness, with Audience Engagement being the key indicator. There were a number of sources available to the team that purported to provide reliable Audience measurement and insights however I only depended on two to provide an accurate view, Omniture and Nielsen.
Alternative sources included Hitwise, Google Analytics and Alexa – Google Analytics is cheap/free but pretty unreliable and Alexa provides a Relative view only. Hitwise is the worst of the bunch though given their data collection methodology means it doesn’t represent the broader online population and worse still, it doesn’t necessarily reflect human activity!
Here are the two main issues with Hitwise data:
1. Hitwise does not measure individuals – it measures traffic.
This effectively means you could hit your website with bot traffic to boost your numbers and it would show as traffic in Hitwise. Nielsen Australia removed 50% of GroupOn Australia’s traffic in March because that traffic consisted largely of unsolicited clicks, meaning popups that appear as you close scurrilous ads (Congratulations, you have won $1,000,000!!!!!) – those clicks are still counted in Hitwise.
2. Hitwise doesn’t include key ISPs
Hitwise harvest data from partnering ISP’s, however Australia’s two largest ISP’s BigPond and Optus don’t participate. This is major a concern as a large proportion of internet users (about 58%) are not reflected in their data. This is a particular problem for a business like Cudo given its mainstream audience, and mainstream Australia do not typically use fringe ISPs.
Nielsen was recently selected as the official measurement partner of the Australian IAB, in their press release they said:
With the endorsement of Nielsen Online Ratings, IAB Australia is identifying people-based metrics, as opposed to browser-based, as the best and preferred online audience measurement system for the Australian online advertising industry.
This is the nub of the problem. TechCrunch called it out almost two years ago.
At Cudo we didn’t care about browsers for obvious reasons, we cared about people, they still do, like the 1,000,000 plus Australians who go to cudo.com.au each and every month, I couldn’t give a monkeys how many Bots swing by!