Content publishers and tracking agencies aren't always on the same page when it comes to Web metrics, which are key to a site's appeal to advertisers. In 2004, upstart MySpace was watching its user traffic rise fast. But executives were having a tough time luring new advertisers to the social network because it didn't show up in the lists of top websites compiled by Internet audience trackers ComScore and Nielsen Online, CNET News.com reports.
"We had a hard case telling people how big we were and how many unique visitors we had. They didn't believe us. We didn't show up on people's radars," said Jason Feffer, former vice president of operations at MySpace who is now president and chief executive at opinion–forums site SodaHead.com. "It was frustrating that advertisers wanting to advertise to that demographic would go to Friendster when we were 10 times bigger than them," he told CNET writer Elinor Mills.
That changed fairly quickly for MySpace. But the problem persists for many other websites competing for advertising dollars in an environment where the difference between being ranked fourth or fifth in a category can directly impact the bottom line. Being undercounted by the audience measurement firms costs publishers advertising deals and threatens their ad–based businesses.
The entire new business model is dependent on getting this right.