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Friday, October 20, 2006

Quantcast: A Better Alexa?

Quantcast is shaping up to be a better Alexa. Started by a team of web analytics experts, it provides a depth Alexa is missing like age, sex, and ethnicity of a site's audience. It might be better described as complementary to Alexa since Quantcast doesn't convey as much detail on traffic rankings. The two sites' methodologies are quite different.

Alexa depends on users of the Alexa toolbar to determine traffic rankings, which has led to criticism that it isn't really representative since only tech savvy users use it to any great degree. By contrast, Quantcast has apparently signed up one million households along with attendant demographic information that it uses to collate audience statistics like age, ethnicity, and education breakdown. This sort of panel analysis might yield better quality analytics, but site owners looking to improve data collection can sign up for the Quantified Publisher program. A tracking pixel is embedded on your site to collect audience data.

Each site is indexed against the Internet average (based on the US Internet population) with 100 being average.

Some interesting statistics Quantcast provides:
  • Craigslist is about evenly split between addicts (50.7%) and regulars (44.4%). There are very few passers-by.
  • Facebook attracts 1.7 times the Internet average of users 45-54.
  • Asians make up 10% of Second Life's audience, but are represented 2.29 times the Internet average.
Though the web analytics space is crowded, Quantcast's outreach to the webmaster community makes it unique. More open than Hitwise, Nielsen, and comScore, it allows sites to be part of the data collection process, potentially giving a more accurate picture of their audiences. Combined with its panel of 1M households, it's the best of both worlds utilizing both traditional and site-embedded tracking methods to collect usage data.

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