Tuesday, February 17, 2009

measurement fail: comscore

I've been spending some quality time figuring out how to get accurate external measurements on various Web properties. ComScore was the alleged solution, given it's the standard way that everyone gets data on market penetration and everything. They've got the data, they've got the tools, and they do the classification that makes the tools fairly simple to use.

Maybe I'm a methodology nazi, but I always try to understand where the numbers come from. It didn't take too much looking to see that the "social networking" category was a complete shit show. I think Facebook, MySpace, Hi5. ComScore thinks Blogger, Wordpress, MySpace, Facebook. OK. Fine. I guess blogs are "social" in a way too. But let's look deeper.

In addition to blogs, I noticed a ton of what I consider "content" sites. Some examples are Gawker sites (Gawker, Gizmodo, FleshBot, etc.), TechCrunch, and ChicagoBreakingNews.com. I guess these all started as blogs, but with paid reporting staffs and advertisements I think it places sites like that closer to news or media sites. Both feature content that someone gets paid to write. It's like saying the Wall Street Journal is a social networking site because people write content and the readers can leave comments. I respectfully and vehemently disagree with this view.

Then there are the notable exceptions. Certain well known local social networking sites aren't included - sites like Mixi, which is huge in Japan. One notable exception that you've probably heard of is Twitter. That's right. ComScore doens't consider Twitter social media. To me, Twitter seems much more social than reading news articles on TechCrunch. So how is Twitter categorized by comScore? According to comScore, Twitter is a "Instant Messenger" service. IM as I know it does private one to one communication in real time. Twitter does public one to many communication not in real time. Almost polar opposites.

What are these guys on?

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