What’s more trustworthy: DoubleClick’s AdPlanner or comScore?

A handful of articles this morning argued against the validity of a recently released DoubleClick AdPlanner report showing Facebook reached a trillion page views in June. Both CNN and TG Daily cite contrary data obtained by digital measurement firm comScore, which claims Facebook only reached 467 billion page views that month.

The reason for the large discrepancy has to do with the different measurement methods used by comScore and Google-owned DoubleClick.

The DoubleClick AdPlanner measures traffic from sites that use Google Analytics, data from Google services (like the Google Toolbar) and data from third-party market research. ComScore, however, only pulls data from two sources: a random sampling of 2 million people across the world who allow comScore to anonymously track their traffic, and data collected from over a million domains.

The data from Google services is arguably a more accurate measure of how people are actually using the web. ComScore’s random sampling of 2 million users leaves questions about how well that group represents the entire world.

“ComScore is a strange animal,” said NowSourcing President Brian Wallace, whose company helps advise businesses on how to spend their ad dollars. “I’m not saying that their data is bad, but when you have things like Quantcast, what’s the point of paying so much?” Quantcast, Compete and Alexa all offer similar services to comScore, but provide a portion of their data free to the public.

ComScore’s business model relies on selling its measurement services to clients — meaning the company has a much greater interest in making sure its data measurement methodology stays accurate. DoubleClick, by contrast, is a free service that people can use to help determine the best use for their advertising dollars.

“ComScore has been presented to be an acceptable standard for businesses. Reason dictates that if you pay more you’ll get more,” Wallace said, adding that this logic doesn’t necessarily apply to web traffic measurement because it’s not an exact science. And comScore does give its clients a larger set of data broken down to fit specific needs. Rather than offer a comprehensive list of the highest trafficked web sites, the company instead provides public reports, such as “Global Audience Analysis for Top Retail Sites.”

Wallace said business clients rely on comScore as a sort of measuring stick to compare against Google’s DoubleClick and Pagerank data, which means the true number of Facebook’s monthly page views is likely somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion.

Image via Sterlic


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