Monitor Overall Internet Activity Using Web Metrics

Web metrics measures what's happening on the Internet. It focuses on the number and types of people online, the number of broadband versus dial-up connections, advertisers, advertisements (shapes, sizes, level of annoyance), and all things related to the Internet as a whole.

Web metrics is asking: How many Web sites are there? How many searches? How many e-mails? How many of those e-mails are spam? Does it make sense to promote items online for sale to certain countries or to seniors? How many people search at Google versus Yahoo! versus MSN?

There are four ways of tracking Web metrics data, and several kinds of companies that fall into a particular niche. These firms study the Internet as a whole. Think of them as Internet archeologists. They take all of the raw data they get and interpret it in their own way, using information from many, many sites and sources out there on the Internet:

  • People. The first kind of company that tracks Web metrics data does so by using large panels of people whom the companies follow as they surf the Internet as part of their daily routine. These companies report which sites are the most popular and can have their panels check out your competitors and do a comparative analysis. These are companies like Nielsen Online and comScore.

  • Hits. The second type of Web metrics firm checks out the hits on the ISPs. These firms are watching the masses out there surfing on the Internet. They report on how these unidentified (and sometimes unwashed) users research cars, read the latest celebrity gossip, and watch news stories. Hitwise is one such firm that tracks ISP hits.

  • Responsiveness. A third type of Web metrics firm watches the responsiveness of popular Web sites. They track how well a popular entertainment site holds up during the Oscars or the Emmys or if sports sites can handle the traffic during the Super Bowl, and which ones run the fastest and which ones drown under the increased demand. Two firms who do this kind of Web metrics are Keynote Systems and Tealeaf.

  • Commerce. The final group tracks online commerce. They watch how much these commerce companies are spending on advertising, and what percentage the consumer is spending on the Internet. They also track the growth rate of companies as compared to their competition. One of the big tracking companies in this niche is eMarketer.

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