Cincy: Pay no attention to those Nielsen numbers!

Cincinnati Enquirer website chief James Jackson disputes a local blogger’s contention that the paper’s published traffic figures look “suspiciously inflated.” The daily says it has more than 2.1 million unique users per month.

Nielsen//NetRatings reports a smaller figure because it uses a different methodology to collect data,” Jackson says in a comment on Bill Sloat’s Daily Bellwether blog. “Nielsen estimates Web traffic based on its sampling of the activity of recruited panelists. Nielsen’s panel often under-represent news Web sites because panelists are less likely to be the at-work/day-time commercial audience that constitutes the majority of most news sites’ views, visits and unique users. Therefore, Cincinnati.Com traffic — as well as that of other sites Nielsen measured — is under-reported.”

[Image: this morning’s print Enquirer, Newseum]

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7 Responses to “Cincy: Pay no attention to those Nielsen numbers!”

  1. James Jackson Says:

    Yeah! I made Gannett Blog!

  2. John Moriello Says:

    Aw, James, you were way too nice to the basement-boy blogger at The Daily Bellweather.

    You should have at least threatened to bludgeon him with the rollout guides from New Century Network or CareerPath.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Nielsens are a TERRIBLE way to measure Web traffic for news sites (or any site that relies heavily on ‘work panel’ traffic) — they have been the source of widespread criticism since their inception. However, because the name ‘Nielsen’ is attached to them, they’ve continued to have some heft.

    Virtually EVERY major news site gets VASTLY higher readership numbers from their measurement logs (which count actual page views) than they get from Nielsen. Sometimes the difference is 50% or more, and it infuriates everyone in the business.

    The idea that the numbers are intentionally inflated is almost certainly wrong and this sort of blogging is why people criticize bloggers. The blogger in this case didn’t bother to call the paper, didn’t chase an explanation, and just opened his mouth and proclaimed the Enquirer’s numbers were “suspiciously inflated,” whatever that means.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    If they look deeper into the Omniture data they will realize their unique visitor report can’t be true.

    First of all, a high percentage of people clean their cookies on a regular basis (1 out 5 clean them daily) and it also reflects a lot of duplicate readership (logging on from work and home)

    Their claim would place them higher than Philly.com and NJ.com. Quantcast, Compete, Nielsen, and Comscore all report Cincinnati.com to have slightly over 650,000 uniques which is very respectable.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    It was only recently that James Jackson was forced to stop using “hits” as a metric of readership, after using them and bragging about them for years. His pages are so ineptly constructed that loading just one constitutes a multitude of hits — don’t trust him on any other numbers, either. There’s no there there.

  6. James Jackson Says:

    7/13/2008 9:52 AM makes a great point. As I replied to a similar comment on another blog, the “unique visitors” or “unique users” figures reported by ANY Web site will be substantially greater than the number of actual people they reach, particularly people in a local market. The ratio between “unique” and “people” is hard to know and varies site-to-site, but the number of people is probably going to be at least 50-60% smaller than the number of uniques.

    As the writer notes, one issue is how many people clear their cookies and another is how many users access a site on multiple appliances (PC at home, PC at work, PDA, phone, etc.). Other factors include how many users (or their networks) ignore cookie requests, how many users originate outside the local market, how many uniques are robotic, how many cookies are not passed or recognized due to transmission failures, etc. etc.

    However, advertisers/agencies have learned to think in terms of uniques — since that’s one of the only metrics common to all Web sites. As a result, it’s often one of the first questions they ask and it’s something they ask – or should ask – of any site they’re considering using to advertise. Since advertisers/agencies speak and think in terms of unique users, our own business-to-business marketing materials must use the same language and framework.

  7. James Jackson Says:

    Dear 9:24 PM,

    Thanks — because of you I made Gannett Blog again! Now, if I could only get a tag…

    (I assume that’s you, E. We do miss you, you irascible soul. I hope you’re enjoying this fabulous weather we’re having?)

    I’m afraid your observation is not entirely accurate. I made The Enquirer one of the first newspaper sites, and the first local Gannett site, to stop tracking “hits” back in 1997. We were one of the first to invest in using real analytics services to track views, visits, uniques and other measureable metrics. Our servers have not even logged “hits” since the late 1990’s (why waste CPU time and terabytes of server space?). If we were to report “hits,” the figure would be something on the order of 2 billion per month (which not even I am self-aggrandizing enough to do).

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