Why We Can't Measure Online Traffic Precisely

Ever wonder why certain ads pop up on your desktop but not on your tablet? Or on your tablet but not your phone?


That’s because, according to the current tracking methods used to measure internet traffic, you’re three different people.

IP Tracking

With a few notable exceptions (Facebook for one), as far as internet tracking goes, you’re not a person, you’re a number (an IP address to be precise), and each device you use to connect to the internet—desktop, tablet, phone, Roku, gaming device, etc.—has a different IP address. So if you access your favorite coffee shop site from each of them, it thinks they’ve reached several unique visitors. Throw in multiple browsers like Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox and the number is multiplied. Delete your cookies and whole new set is generated for a “different” person. Talk about a split personality.

Bot Visits

If these Sybil-like visitors weren’t confusing enough, a huge number of site visits aren’t even from humans. There are thousands of bots roaming cyberspace making millions of site visits every day. Estimates of bot visits range from 60-80% of traffic for some sites. Some of the bots are sent by companies like Google to generate their search rankings (and are discounted by them in their reports), but others are designed to impersonate real visitors for a variety of less desirable reasons. It’s estimated that up to 22% of total web traffic comes from these impostors.

Measurement Report Complications

That’s why raw measurements, like the number of cookies set by a site, can be grossly inaccurate. And that’s why measurement companies like Nielsen, comScore and Quantcast have developed analytical tools that attempt to figure out who’s really visiting what, when and where.

Other analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and Yahoo! Web Analytics, report data in various metric as well, but ultimately all of these measurements are either raw data or interpolations. Put another way, they are each company’s best guess at what’s happening on your site.

Data Interpretation Experts

This is why it’s important to have players on your team who can look at these mountains of data and mine the nuggets of valuable data they contain. Tools like Google Analytics offer a wealth of data, but simply amassing data is of little value if you don’t know what’s meaningful and how to act on it. That’s where experts like the Optimization Management team at the Unleaded Group step in. We have an entire department focused on the latest in site analytics and optimization plus award-winning development and design teams to back them up.

Analytics for E‑Commerce Professionals

Why wait to take the lead in e-commerce? When you’re ready to use analytic data to its full potential, the Unleaded Group is here to help. Visit our newly-designed website for a look at the many ways we can fuel your business growth.

The Unleaded Group is a global leader in high-performance e-commerce web development. We’re happy to send you a free quote for designing a site that does the job you need. Or call us toll-free today at 855.865.3233 to learn how the Unleaded Group can add horsepower to your online business.