Calling Active Rain traffic statistics into question
So I was looking at my Active Rain statistics today (To be honest
not something I had ever really done before aside from the
occasional glance. And of course, being the curious cat that I am,
I decided to take the time to figure out how these things were
calculated and what exactly I was looking at. Also I wanted to see
how my stats stacked up in terms of traffic vs my REW Blog.
A quick overview of Active Rain the stats as I understand them (This is for blog entries)
The stats break down the following
- Date: This is when you submitted an article
- Title: This is the title of your article
- Comments: This is how many comments the article has received
- Views: This (I think) is impressions (One of the numbers I want to go into detail about, see below)
- Clicks: This is total page refreshes NOT unique readers (Another one of the numbers I want to go into detail about, see below)
Now let's get into some detail:Views: This is NOT how many times a particular blog article has been viewed. (Which is what I and many others had assumed) - this is actually a total count of how many opportunities to get clicked on and read for an individual blog post at AR. I really think this needs to be renamed as it is kind of misleading - Here I am thinking that my particular blog article is being read by all these people, when actually that is not what "views" means at all. Kind of feels like they are trying to inflate my stats. This should be called "Opportunities to get clicked" or to use a more familiar term "impressions".
Here is why this is important - "Impressions" gauge potential. If a link to your blog article gets an "impression" that means there is the "potential" for someone to click on it and read it. But it is not the same thing as the blog post actually being read. Just like in Adsense - I can bid on a keyword that has 100 searches per day, and show if I have appropriate bidding etc, my Ad will be shown on Google's search page 100 times. Now I am purchasing this ad because I want potential customers to be exposed to my services, but the only time these people are actually exposed to my services is when they "Click" on my add. The impressions aren't really valuable to me, the "clicks" are. This is why Google charges "Per click" as opposed to "Per Impression" - If my ad was shown 100 times and no one clicked it, those impressions are basically worthless to me.
The same goes for Active Rain - I may write a blog, and it might show up in a list of most recent posts, or other places - but this link to my post shares the page with no less than 20 other posts and is pushed down the list quite quickly as other posts are made. Also on this same page are all the other links that are part of Active Rain - Advertisements, links to the main sections of the site, all kinds of things. So if my post shows up somewhere on a page with 50+ other links, it's nice to know, but it is not really all that valuable of a statistic unless it is actually being read.
What I want to know is "How many potential customers and / or peers have actually read what I wrote" - Views suggests this, but as I said, the description and name of the statistic are actually mis-leading.
So let's move onto "Clicks" - maybe that will actually prove to be a more useful metric.
Clicks: This should actually be called "Non unique page views". What clicks actually means is how many times the full blog article has been loaded. I tested this out, by clicking on an old post I had made and sitting there and hitting refresh - What I found was that every time I refreshed the page my "Clicks" went up. So this actually does not mean what they say it means which in their words is "Clicks are the number of times someone has clicked-through to your blog entry".
Now - "Clicks" does contain the information that I want as part of its total, however I have absolutely no way of knowing how many of the "Clicks" hold any potential for generating business for me because they are lumped in with all sorts of other reasons for page loads that are NOT going to produce anything positive for me or my business. These things include:
- Every time I visit my own blog post to see if someone has commented, this registers a click
- Every time my post does not load correctly, or I want to refresh the page for some reason, this registers a click
- Every time a point monger makes a "great post" or "me
to" comment, I receive an email, click through to my post
to read it, this registers a click (We all know there are many
members who comment, just to get points)
- Every time someone who has made a "real" comment
receives an email about a new comment (From a point
monger), this registers a click.
Why do I seem upset?It is my own fault that I did not verify their reporting methods before I gave credence to the effectiveness of the system, sure you could make that argument - however I should not have to. "Unique visitors, page views, clicks etc" are all relatively known and understood terms and they are using them (I feel) intentionally in a different context to trick me (An Active Rain user) into believing that their system is more effective and beneficial than it really is.
Also, as one of the more influential personalities online when it comes to web savvy agents and brokers, I have been singing the praises of active rain and recommending them to my community, and extended SOI. I am not saying that there is no value in Active Rain, that is not what this is about, but what I am saying is that this investigation has caused me to question the integrity of their system and thus makes me feel a lot less confident in their system as a whole and even less confident in the referrals I have sent them.
My "stats" say I have referred 91 members to Active Rain, which only means those that followed an referral link of some sort, I would venture to guess I am responsible for at least 10 times that amount of actual registrants via positive Active Rain expose in my communities.
I am also upset because there is likely a large % of members there who do not have the experience or knowledge to be able to undergo this same investigative process and thus are potentially investing a LOT of effort contributing content to a system that claims to be more effective than it is and they may have been able to invest that time and energy in other venues that would have produced more for the same amount of time invested.
OK nice rant, what do you expect to accomplish?
- What I would like to see is proper explanations for the current
stats that do not mislead me and the members I have referred into
believing that my time spent blogging at AR is not more beneficial
than it actually is.
- I would like have the stats that actually matter reported to me - such as "unique views" (Based on IP) of each blog post so that I can gauge how many of my potential customers and / or peers I am reaching. Time for all of us is limited, and we need to make sure we are investing it in the right places to achieve the highest returns.