If realestate.com.au were to report having more than 6,500 users per month, and then started reporting that –actually– they only had about 2,700 users, you might think they had been lying the first time around.
Well, realestate.com.au is in just that position right now. But, they weren’t lying.
The old, larger number refers to “unique browsers”, the old standard for measuring web traffic. The new, smaller number refers to “unique audience”, and is supposed to measure the actual number of people (not web browsers) visiting the website.
Both numbers count the same people, doing the same things, but they count in different ways.
The new system is more precise and useful than the old system. There are problems, of course, like the fact that the new “unique audience” doesn’t yet count mobile users or international users. Even so, it represents real innovation by the people at Nielsen, who created it. (Here’s a shout out to my old buddy Matt Bruce over at Nielsen.)
For example, as of June 2011, the old method counted almost 120 million unique browsers per month in Australia. That is great, but only about 15 million Australians are actually online. According to the new data, each Australian who uses the internet sees 2,772 web pages in a month, goes online 69 times and spends nearly 69 hours there. (It’s nice that I finally found something in which I can be above average!)
Now here’s the paragraph you have all been waiting for. Robert Simeon, I write this especially for you, with a smile. The new system gives realestate.com.au almost exactly the same relative dominance over domain as the old system did. In the old system, realestate.com.au had 1.8 times more unique browsers than domain.com.au. In the new system, it has 1.6 times more unique audience.
I used to work at realestate.com.au. You can probably tell that I’m still proud of them.
Anyone who finds this topic fascinating should, first, see a shrink. After that, if you’re still not cured, you can read more at the following links:
- The Sydney Morning Herald gives a layman’s summary
- An information page from the IAB, which is the online advertising industry’s trade group
- A briefing to investors from realestate.com.au (this is a 13-page PDF file)