Audience Measurement and Web Analytics: A Move Toward Speaking the Same Language

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It’s been pretty clear for some time now that the Web analytics world and the online audience reach measurement/media planning worlds were on a collision course. In the early days of online media, the two fields were distinct, and so the fact that some key terms, like “unique visitor,” meant different things in the different spheres was not an issue. However, as the line between them continues to blur, we run the risk of compounding the measurement confusion already in the marketplace, and giving buyers yet another excuse to throw up their hands and keep their wallets closed due to conflicting data.

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I’m therefore encouraged by comScore’s announcement that their new Digital Analytix product (a rebranding of the Nedstat analytics product), changes the name of a key metric from “unique visitor” to “unique browser,” aligning with the audience research terminology as formalized in the IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines. ComScore didn’t make this move lightly or frivolously, and they’ve got a good blog post explaining the thinking that went into the decision. Using unique browsers for the analytics metric and unique visitors for the audience metric eliminates a potential point of confusion within comScore’s product family, and becomes an even bigger win if it restarts a conversation within the web analytics community about terminology with an eye toward consistency with the IAB guidelines definitions.

If these two vital parts of the online research world can establish a common lexicon, I’m hopeful that will facilitate new and better ways to leverage the insights that both site analytics and audience measurement deliver. It will also remove the unneeded distractions created by metrics that to an outsider seem the same but that don’t, and won’t ever, align.

Joe Laszlo is Deputy Director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, at the IAB.

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