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Posts Tagged ‘comScore’

Yesterday I attended an interesting talk organized by PuneOpenCoffeeClub. We had owner of a reputed online gaming portal talking about the kind of traffic his games attract. He used comScore extensively to compare himself in the online gaming world and stated that getting into the top 5 of the comScore list of online gaming sites worldwide is the target he has set for himself.

While comScore does provide an elaborate analysis of the website traffic and is considered a standard worldwide, one needs to understand the methodology used for this tracking.  comScore has a panel of around 2 million worldwide and they use extensive statistical methods to come up with the numbers they have (more details on methodology here). But what needs to be noticed is the fact that comScore excludes traffic from cyber-cafes and users under age 15. For India, I am sure that is a sizable mass of internet users. And when it comes to activities like online gaming, I am afraid, absolute numbers shown by comScore might be drastically away from the reality. Cyber cafe still remains an important point of access for Indians and excluding this traffic can result in misleading conclusions. Internet is being taught in schools and at least in cities, school kids are using internet extensively for both studies and entertainment purposes. In such situation, excluding users under age 15 might not always provide the best traffic numbers, especially for activity like online gaming.

Other best bet in terms of tracking online traffic is Alexa.com. However in over more than a decade that I have spent on internet, I have not seen a single browser with Alexa toolbar. Alexa again, is a panel study based on the information gathered through their toolbars. Apart from the high-end users of internet, I wonder if an average internet user would actually go to www.alexa.com and download and install their toolbar.

There are some other tracking and measurement services available, but mostly it has been Alexa and comScore who are quoted for such purposes.

One can argue that both comScore and Alexa work based on a random sample and hence same error in reporting would appear across traffic measurement for all sites. Given this, Alexa and comScore can be reliably used to compare two internet destinations or to detect any deviation from normal trend. However for absolute numbers, I guess there is lot more needed to be done.

For developed countries where most of the traffic originates from home, school or offices and very less from cyber cafes, these numbers might work, but for India with its huge cyber cafe traffic, I guess a more extensive tracking system is required. Cyber cafes continue to be important point of access, often the only access point in tier II and III cities. I have seen young school kids flocking these cyber cafes which serve more as gaming parlours; parents creating matrimony profiles of their kids with the help of assistant (generally the owner) at the cyber cafe; and young college students playing pranks on their friends through Orkut and also getting their first experience to mature content over internet. comScore is missing this traffic  by excluding cyber cafes.

Although this traffic might not be very huge in terms of absolute numbers, general observation is that these new users of internet (who learn how to use internet in cyber cafes) are more likely to click on ads as online behaviour has not matured to differentiate an online advertisement from a genuine article. I once saw a school kid trying to fill up a life insurance form because the advertisement offered some lucky draw prize on filling the form (Of course he never completed the form for the lack of PAN number 🙂 ). This audience would be of the least interest to all the online advertisers and brands since they hardly convert into any transaction; however these would be the guys who would most likely click on all those online advertisements and hence form important part of the online advertisement industry.

I am sure that all hosting servers do have the exact numbers about traffic coming to them, however key is in profiling this traffic and consolidating and analysing this information into useful insights. This system should be encompassing enough to take care of diversity in internet usage as we see in India and in developed western countries and also in non-English speaking countries.

Creating such a tracking and measurement system for India would need investment, and given the current level of online advertisement spends in the country it needs to be analyzed whether this investment is justified.

Do you guys see an entrepreneurship opportunity in this?

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