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Monday, April 16, 2007

Industry Thought: Cookie Deletion

comScore put out a recent report on the effects of cookie deletion on the measurement of website traffic. The numbers are pretty amazing, as they show the real potential for web analytics companies such as Webside Story, Omniture, and Coremetrics to over count traffic by a factor of 2.5x at least.

You can read the release here, but the real important note to take back from this is the following… The numbers you are reporting from your website are not correct. They are at least 2x over stated, and probably even more overstated for more technical sites and blogs.

Web users today are complex. They visit multiple sites per day; they connect with embedded content and subscribe to syndicated content. There are multiple browsers per user, and there are more technical tools to help consumers than ever before.

So, as a rule of thumb, you should at least divide your web analytics numbers by ½ if not more to get a true estimate of your visitors. Yes, it is a hard pill to swallow, but it is better to be realistic about what is happening on your site.

I have a ton of experience in this space, and I can tell you that the 2.5x number is understated slightly. When I have worked with publishers, advertisers, and even web analytics companies, everyone knows this is true, they just don’t want to talk about it.

Well, it is time to talk about it. Look at the bright side, the number of visits per unique user is higher than you thought. This is a good thing, it means people like what you are doing, and it means that you have a good chance to build your audience if you can get more people to visit your site.

Just a thought.

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