Being able to rate the traffic to your website is extremely useful. It tells you how popular your site is and gives you some comparision data relative to your competitors. There are a number of service providers in this space, some free and others fee paying. The two most popular fee paying services are Hitwise and ComScore.
Hitwise was founded in February 1997 as a solution to a new problem – only the large websites, such as Yahoo!, MSN and Amazon were being monitored comparatively and data on websites with a more limited reach, such as Colgate, Nissan, and L’Oreal – was not available.
The reason for this is that the methodology used by the existing online measurement companies was not cost effective and so could not effectively scale to measure a medium like the Internet. These companies simply applied the television ratings methodology (software sitting in a person’s home) to the Internet. As a result, only a relatively small number of people (10,000 to 50,000) people were able to be monitored, which meant only a relatively small number of websites (top 1000) were reported in the rankings.
Instead, Hitwise applied a new measurement method to the new medium. They realized that by working with ISP networks, (instead of recruiting individual panel members) it would be possible to anonymously monitor more people, and therefore report on more websites. Using this new method Hitwise could cost effectively and anonymously monitor millions of Internet users, and therefore report on hundreds of thousands of websites, in addition to the top few.
As a result, while many other measurement companies have relatively small client bases, Hitwise data is relevant to over 800,000 online businesses. More information can be found at www.hitwise.com
ComScore is a global Internet information provider to which leading companies turn for consumer behavior insight that drives successful marketing, sales and trading strategies.
comScore’s experienced analysts work closely with clients to identify their business objectives and determine how they can best apply and benefit from comScore’s vast databases of consumer behavior. comScore maintains massive proprietary databases that provide a continuous, real-time measurement of the myriad ways in which the Internet is used and the wide variety of activities that are occurring online. More information can be found at www.comscore.com
Alexa is a California-based free service. Alexa is a subsidiary company of Amazon that is best known for operating a website that provides information on the web traffic to other websites. Alexa collects information from users who have installed an “Alexa Toolbar,” allowing them to provide statistics on web site traffic, as well as lists of related links.
Alexa ranks sites based on visits from users of its Alexa Toolbar for Internet Explorer and from integrated sidebars in Mozilla and Netscape. Alexa is great for getting a daily snapshot of your rankings in terms of traffic and pageviews. You can build realtime graphs comparing your site with your competition (like the one in the picture). More information can be found at www.alexa.com
For most people the free information you get from Alexa is enough. If you are a marketing manager of a large corporation the depth and granularity you get from HitWise and ComScore is worth the fee.