My rant on web stats
Since I sell advertising on the Crooked Cog sites I’m inevitably going to be asked for my web stats. Here’s my problem with that… they are all crap!
Just so you know the background I’m coming from... I have a degree in computer science (programming) and have been doing nothing but building/maintaining websites and web applications since I graduated. I have a good bit of experience in measuring sites and have dealt with dozens and dozens of sites in many different capacities.
Here’s the dirty secret very few people will tell you that are “in the know”… nobody really has a clue how many people are coming to their site. Sure you can get software that tracks that sort of thing and there are literally hundreds of different products out there that can be used, and they all GIVE DIFFERENT NUMBERS. And we aren’t talking small differences, we are talking differences of hundreds of percentage.
Two popular statistics programs that I use are Google Analytics (used to be called Urchin Stats) and Webalizer. The difference in their October numbers for www.TwentyNineInches.com is exactly 525.69% (Webalizer being the higher one).
If the math is a little to much for you, it’s like the difference between getting paid $30,000 a year and $157,707 a year. I don’t know about you, but that would probably change my standard of living a bit.
So a 525.69% difference between two very popular web stats software packages. You’re probably wondering how this can be and there’s a whole lot of technical stuff that goes into it. Tracking the differences between google bots hitting your site for their search engine and a real person visiting. And the differences between one person only getting counted as one visit even if he visits every day, or getting counted as a new visit every 30 mins. Those are just a couple of examples. My gut feeling is that Google Analytics (the lower numbers) is closer to the truth.
But here’s my moral conundrum… when Marketing Guy from Company A asks for my web stats, I know he’s comparing it to the stats of other websites to see if my prices are to high. Marketing Guy obviously can’t tell me what numbers are coming from what sites, and my guess is that he doesn’t even know to ask what web stats software he is using. So what numbers do I give? The bloated numbers from Webalizer or the closer-to-the-truth lower numbers? I feel like I should give him the number I believe to be more on target, however he will, through no fault of his own, ignorantly compare those numbers to the stats from another website, stats that could very well be pulled from something like Webalizer.
So what do I do at this point? Seriously… I’m open for suggestions. Recently I’ve been trying to focus on the impact of my sites, but if I dodge the web stats question it’s gonna sound shady. Then at that point what do I tell him? Both numbers and try to give him an explanation? Not exactly something I want to be explaining on the phone when I’m trying to sell advertising.
I’m at a loss at this point, but I can tell you that web stats are crap and nobody should be divvying up their marketing budget based solely on these numbers.
reposted at www.crookedcog.com
Posted by Tim Grahl at 7:04 AM