In the early days of the Internet when AltaVista, Google and Yahoo were locked in a truel for dominance of the search market, it was a sign of just how important a trusted count of website visitor statistics would become.
Today Google Analytics is the easiest and most reliable way for owners of websites to find out everything from how many people visit per hour to what postcode they’re in.
But there’s no easy way to share Google Analytics in a verifiable way and therefore it hasn’t knocked down the wall of suspicion that exists whenever a publisher puffs up the size of their audience.
An innovative start-up named SeeTheStats.com believes it offers a solution to verify common claims like ‘we have the highest unique visitor numbers’ and ‘sure, we can deliver that many page impressions in one day’.
So what’s unique about SeeTheStats.com?
If you run a website that already uses Google Analytics - and most websites do - you can use SeeTheStats.com to select your key traffic statistics and share them with the world. And for anyone thinking about doing business with a website based on traffic claims, this shows that they are telling the truth, although they can still be selective.
As far as I know, nobody else offers such a service at no cost.
It’s so simple and it makes you wonder why any small or medium website owner would pay five-figures-sums to subscribe to industry-leading auditing and measurement solutions such as Effective Measure, Nielsen, ComScore and Hitwise.
It also challenges the Audited Media Association, which has done well to provide affordable options in the past.
However, there’s still one dodgy trick that some publishers use that even distorts Google Analytics and that’s the auto-refreshing of web pages.
For example, on TheAge.com.au, if someone leaves a page open in the background it will automatically reload itself every five minutes so even though it has probably been looked at once it will count as 12 page views for every hour that it’s left open, even though it’s probably hidden behind a stack of other windows.
Sure, they reckon it’s legitimate because breaking news is updated all the time on a news website but if you’re a paying for each ad impression you’d much prefer that the user had to click a button to request auto-refreshing, then you’d trust the numbers a bit more.
So you must always manually check for auto-refreshing before singing a contract with a publisher!