Can you name an online media company that has billions in ad revenue but has never had to bother with measuring unique visitors or pages views — those antiquated measures that keep the dynamic web locked into antiquated ad sales processes and ruin the online advertising economics of most media companies?
Ok, so that was a loaded question. The answer, of course, is Google.
Scoble revisits the perennial hand-wringing by website owners over the inaccuracies of panel-based online traffic measurement and asks:
What stats do you think are the most important? Whatâ€™s the most accurate way to measure your sitesâ€™ visitors? What will advertisers insist on seeing in the future?
The answer is right in front of everyone’s face. Google never had to worry about old fashioned audience metrics because Google figure out how to optimize the delivery of ads based on what people DO, and more importantly, based on what’s on their minds — their intentions they reveal every time they type words into a search box. Google also optimized ad delivery based on text-based context for any web page ( i.e. AdSense), which isn’t as efficient as search keywords, but its worked pretty darn well.
The secret is that advertisers don’t really need head counts — they need to get into people’s heads.
Dan Mitchell had a piece in the NYT about online ads vs. privacy, which looked at the privacy-related downside of get-inside-your-head advertising, but for Google, the upside of getting inside people’s heads is clear.
And it may turn out to be Google that rescues every other website from the tyranny of the headcount — beyond sharing in some pay-per-click AdSense revenue — if Google (with DoubleClick in tow) succeeds at creating the universal ad platform.