Click wars: Ratings companies strike back

Media buying company Zenith Media's research director, Deb Perry, who conducted a three-month study of internet site visitation in relation to web advertising, said internet advertisers, publishers and ratings companies were misguided in their use of "big numbers" to measure the popularity of websites.

Perry cited recent statistics given by internet ratings company Media Metrix, which she said listed 500 websites that attracted more than 50,000 Australian visitors per month. According to Media Metrix, the survey sample included 2000 online panellists.

"What does that 50,000 people mean?" Perry asked. "They're just projecting their panel out to the population."

Media Metrix's vice president and director of research for Asia-Pacific, Jonathon Jephcott, admitted all market research, including that surrounding the internet, incurred "sampling error". Moreover, Jephcott agreed internet audiences were "volatile", thus the sampling error for their behaviour would be considerable.

However, he pointed out that the use of a small sample as a means by which to estimate the behaviour of a larger sample formed the basis of all market research, including that of television, which he said had been conclusively proven to be accurate.

"This suggests a misunderstanding of sample survey theory," Jephcott said. "She's (Perry) a distinguished researcher . . . she's being ungenerous."

Similarly, Vivien Feyen, marketing director for internet ratings company IMR Worldwide, rejected Perry's criticism as "not well informed". Feyen agreed that web ratings terms, the validity of which Perry challenged, such as clicks and hits were "vogue terms", but suggested internet market research methodology was "much more sophisticated than Zenith knows".

Perry compared the current standard of internet market research to that used in cinema and outdoor (billboard and public transport) advertising. She said companies spent relatively small percentages of their marketing budgets on cinema and outdoor advertising because accurate demographic figures regarding cinema audiences and exposure to outdoor sites were not available.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Byron Kaye

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?