Measuring traffic? Alexa, Compete, Quantcast all have problems

compete2.bmpEver wonder how much traffic a Web site is getting?

We’ve already talked about how tough it is to get accurate stats. Alexa, the favorite of many people because it offers lots of easy-to-get free data, is flawed. And new competitors, such as Compete and Quantcast, which claim to offer something better, also have drawbacks.

Traffick has a good summary of the providers, but still leaves you banging your head against the wall in frustration that there’s no easy, reliable way to do this:

Based on the evidence I’ve sifted through, there’s not a shred to suggest that Compete.com is better [than Alexa.com] at this stage, and some to suggest it’s actually worse. That shouldn’t be surprising. Going strictly on toolbar installs, the upstart service is bound to have less data, and less representative data. They try to augment that with “ISP relationships,” I gather, a practice which is quite old and generally not well explained. (Are Hitwise’s ISP relationships better than Compete’s? Are Wordtracker’s better than KeyWord Discovery’s? Does anyone do anything transparently in this industry?)

The CEO of Quantcast, Konrad Feldman, was good enough to talk to me a couple of months ago. I’m still uncertain about where the service is headed, given its newness. Essentially they attempt to combine various data sources to arrive at more accurate rankings, including demographic information for a site. To aid this, sites are encouraged to download some javascript code. Interesting, but no different from the scores of competing analytics services hoping to do the same. Who can get every site or even a lot of sites to install that code?