Internet tracking – virtually unreal?

Comscore, one of two majors in the field of internet tracking had what wall street deemed to be a contretemps when their prediction of Google’s click data was off by an order of magnitude. However as The Wall Street Journal of yesterday notes in an article headlined “Agencies Know the Score on Web Tracking” Madison Avenue did not think “the difference wasn’t much of a shock” and that “it was another reminder that the science of tracking Internet usage is still far from perfect”.

The seeming disconnect between Wall Street and Madison Avenue is apparently explained by putting it down to simply acknowledging that the “science of internet tracking is far from perfect”. That may be so but if money is to be expended based on metrics it seems almost cavalier to allow such a degree of latitude. Both Comscore and Nielsen Online, the other biggie in the field, are relied upon widely by marketers “when trying to decide how to spend their online ad dollars. Advertisers study their data — including a Web site’s total visitors or page views and time spent on the site — to try to determine which sites are popular among particular demographic groups or in certain topic areas, such as news or sports”. That data is then compared with results from their own sites to gear up their own marketing strategy.

Hotel companies are obviously no different in needing accurate numbers to determine a host of marketing related issues including where to spend their online dollars (whether their own wesbite or those of intermediaries or a mix), to go with organic search and/or SEO (search engine optimization) and even use of social networks. Whatever the real explanation (Comscore ascribes a few such as Google’s use of international data which they don’t) for the divergent numbers it is imperative that accuracy in metrics be the standard for the old adage of ad-men (and women) that half of ads work and half doesn’t, one just does not know which half it is simply won’t do in today’s times.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.