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comScore Report Likely Misses Large Internet Segments

comScore released a list of Rankings of Top Worldwide Properties [1] last week, but there’s likely a large segment of internet usage completely missed by their methodologies. I recently blogged about how Domainers Can’t Get No Respect [2] (a followup piece to my 2nd installment of “Domaining & Subdomaining In The Local Space [3]“), because they haven’t had good independent validation of some of their traffic and conversion rate figures. When I wrote that, I didn’t realize that some of them had apparently attempted to get independent validation, but were thwarted by the methodologies of audience measurment services. Frank Schilling let me know that he’d tried to get audited by comScore [4] a few years ago, and they’d failed miserably, registering only about one-thirtieth of the US traffic they’re really getting.

comScore logo

Being somewhat familiar with comScore’s data gathering and audience share estimation methods, I can easily see how Domainers’ sites could get drastically under-represented in comScore’s figures. Read on for details…

Now, lots of other folx have criticised comScore’s methods for arriving at their figures, so this isn’t anything new. But, I can see reasons why domaining companies’ portfolio traffic could be particularly skewed and under-represented compared to most other major company websites.

comScore monitors a sample set (“panel�) of online users, and from that usage bases their audience share projections. (See the comScore methodology description [5].) They state that they have over 2 million participants in their panel, and that their users are representative of internet user demographics.

Unfortunately, their demographics may not be sufficiently representative to fairly compare traffic across all types of internet sites, and small amounts of incremental traffic to sites could easily end up being zeroed out through their statistical methods.

Here’s some reasons why domaining company traffic could be undercounted by comScore:

So, what’s the take-away in all of this? comScore would likely need to count even the smallest amount of traffic they get for sites as being statistically significant, instead of “correcting” it out, if they wish to enable fair inclusion of domainer company sites in their reports. Also, they would need to find the way to include more new user traffic, and traffic from inside companies.

Alternatively, domainers would likely be much better represented by companies that use figures from traffic actuals. IPRO [8] can provide independent auditing of a site’s usage, by monitoring a site’s traffic, or through processing a site’s logfiles.

Also partnering with a company that absorbs data from a number of major ISPs might provide more representative traffic tracking for domainers. There are some metrics companies who get actual usage data from a number of ISPs, and these sources would be far less likely to under-represent the newbie internet user demographic.