Monday, September 24, 2007

Meaningless measures

You learn something everyday - or will, if you are curious.

Yesterday I learned that 'hits' on a website is a rather meaningless expression in terms of readership measurement. David Farrar kindly explained this to me.

A hit is not a page view or a unique visit. A hit is when a file on a page is loaded or hit. Now a page may have three files on it so by viewing one page you get three hits. And an average visit may consist of looking at four pages, so that is 12 hits for that one visit.

What prompted me to ask him was Muriel Newman's statement from her latest column that the NZCPR was receiving nearly 1 million hits per month. Wow, thought I. Then, thinking about Kiwiblog stats of 100,000 visits a month, really?

David enlightened me further, Now the NZCPD front page has a huge number of files on it - over 50 I would say, so 1 million hits might be 20,000 page views which might be 8,000 visits.

He suggested I checkout Alexa traffic rankings which I did. These are for the world mind you because I am not prepared to buy NZ's;

Kiwiblog 67,741
NZCPR 1,299,144

Now it may be the NZCPR does much better in terms of a NZ ranking. I don't know. Maybe Muriel doesn't understand the difference between hits and visits given the column condemns "glib political spin".

I am happy to disclose this site receives an average of 4,168 visits per month.


Anonymous said...

NZCPR visits just went up because I went there from here. Thanks for the link. Interesting site.

Anonymous said...

True, hits is meaningless. Muriel obviously doesn't know much about web pages and so on. She could put a third party site meter on her page but that would no doubt show her true readership is well below that which is claiming. Vistors are what we count when looking at readers but advertisers are interested in page views. NOBODY cares about hits except the naive or someone trying to pull a fast one.

Maybe Muriel got her ranking confused with readership?

By the way according to Alexa she when someone visits her site they look at an average of 5.4 pages per person. And her page is very cluttered with graphics and pictures and boxes. I wouldn't be surprised if she has more than 50 itmes onthe main page but less on other pages. So if there are 1 million hits that would be 32,876 per day. But if the average reader looks at 5.4 pages and there is an average of just 15 items per page that would give each reader 81 hits per visit. That would be 405 visitors per day. or about 12,000 per month.

According to Alexa her traffic is about three times what your's is. Your's is just over 4,000 per month. That again would make her's about 12,000 per month. Twelve thousand readers per month is not as exciting as pretending to have a million hits though, is it?

Once a politician always a politician.

Anonymous said...

Alexa is rubbish. Don't even bother with it.

Anonymous said...

Unless Ms. Newman puts a site meter which is viewable on her site then the only thing one has is Alexa. It is not fully accurate but uses the same system to rate all pages. So the bias is similar across pages. In that case if you do have verifiable reader statistics for some sites you can compare how Muriels site compares to them at Alexa as a percentage and do some math to get a rough idea of her real readership.

What is clear is that 1 million hits is pretty meaningless. I went to a website I work with which knows how many "hits" it got and how many actual readers. Unlike Muriel's it isn't as cluttered with boxes and logos and headlines, etc. So she has far more hits per page than we do. In the last 7 days we hade 61,320 hits with 2,226 individuals on the site. That's 27.5 hits per page view for our site with minimal graphics compared to her site.

Her actually readership is barely into the tens of thousands per month not in the millions as she would like to believe.

Anonymous said...

"Hits" as a measure of internet use is used at the company i work at. I discovered that one 2 second visit to timesonline in the UK generated about 75 hits. Made my stats look pretty bad by the end of the month.

Brian Smaller