Losing Your Audience
(By Number Crunching)
Quantcast is a strange corporate beast that lives to count the number of hits received by any online operation.

"Hits" are hourly (or daily, weekly, or monthly) visitors to a site. It is a record of those who view one or more pages of a magazine, newspaper, music or video or whatever that is being offered up therer on the internet.

RALPH's server shows us getting some 15,000 to 20,000 hits a day.

Quantcast --- presumably looking at animal entrails or some such --- claims that we are receiving but a fraction of this number: 27,250 a month. This is about 5% of the true figure.

We wrote to them to complain --- bitterly --- and received this e-mail in response:

Hi Lolita --

Quantcast is an open, collaborative platform for publishers and by publishers.

Anyway, regarding your data -- we don't claim 27,250 "hits." We are saying you have 27,250 unique monthly visitors.

If someone visits a site 10 times in a month, they are still only one visitor, but they could be hundreds of hits.

Uniques is the industry standard way of measuring audience.

--- Mark Schulze

Our response:


First of all, our server doesn't offer "Uniques." When we go to the Concentric logs, we are offered such things as "Number of requests for each day of the week," or "Daily request totals," or "Which domains are requests coming from, or "Which hosts are accessing this server." Or most tellingly: "Site Hits Today." There is no mention at all of "unique visitors."

Out of somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000 hits a month that Concentric reports to us, are we to believe there is some twiddler out there who is calling up RALPH just to skew the figures?

When I talked to the young man in your office, he said we could put something on each of our pages up there at Concentric which would directly report to you the number of unique hits.

Great. We are trying to keep up a magazine which does honest reviews of books (since 1994) and we have to go back (all editors and six volunteers) into the 6,000+ pages we've put up over these many years and by hand stick in some computer code so that you will be able you say to better estimate which of our 500,000 hits are honest and which are just twiddlers. Great task, no?

I am sure there is some computer program out there which could do this in a trice, but we are mostly geezers around here and cannot tstart in now learning this fancy-dan computer stuff (it was bad enough learning HTML).

The real pisser is that when we call up


on Google, the fourth item down is your organization telling the world, utilizing almost no basis that we can find, that we have but 27,250 hits a month. Such an exact figure. Where in hell did it come from?

Publishers look at these numbers to determine if they should send books or not. To lose that resource because of you would be a disaster for us.

You seem to have found the key to internet hit power via Google; at least they list you as if you were important.

Unfortunately, your arbitrary use of these mythical numbers you've come up with is killing us.

--- Lolita Lark
The Review of
the Arts, Literature,
Philosophy, and the
Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH