As we discussed with Om Malik yesterday, media measurement panels — including Nielsen’s, comScore’s, Hitwise’s and our own — show a strong household bias.
As seen in yesterday’s debate over the perceived September dip in Facebook’s traffic, this can result in a dramatic undercounting of student activity once Fall hits and college students head to the dorms.
Why? Panels can only reflect the internet activity of panel members, which are typically households — not workplaces, and not colleges or universities.
In August, students are still home with their parents — plugging away on their favorite social networks and media sites. Some of these homes are in media measurement panels.
Come September, these students go back to school and their internet activity disappears from the panel.
Panel estimates therefore show a decline in traffic to sites like Facebook despite the fact that activity (for many student-centric sites) actually increases.
This is the problem with panel-based audience measurement. Direct measurement is simply the only way to get an accurate read of web site traffic.
While panels provide directional guidance and insight into trends, they lack the accuracy and precision that the industry requires in order to create a viable data currency that can attract brand advertisers’ dollars.
That why we created the Quantified Publisher program to provide publishers large and small with the ability to accurately measure their audiences — free of charge.
We start with a large panel of two million internet users. We then calibrate that panel information with directly measured traffic data to provide the accurate third-party metrics and easy-to-read profiles you see labeled with this Quantified Publisher icon.
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