Addicted to novelty since 2001

This article from the Christian Science Monitor (found via Slashdot) articulates just how difficult it is to accurately measure your online audience:

Surprising as it may seem, most websites have no idea how many people view their content. This inherent fuzziness is causing problems for commercial websites, especially online publications desperate to make money from Internet advertising. The challenge: How can you charge for ads when it’s nearly impossible to tell advertisers how many people will see them?

There’s a minor logic lapse in the article, in which the writer fails to recognize that the cost of many online ads (Google AdWords, for example) is based on clickthroughs, not page views. This is a more reliable and desirable way to calculate the cost, as it shows direct, measurable value to the buyer.

If you’re interested in this subject, the Slashdot thread is worth reading through as well. Coincidentally, the CTO of ClickTracks, a tool I’m currently evaluating, has posted his comments. Good for him for jumping into a relavent online conversation and identifying himself and his biases–that’s good grassroots marketing.

Finally, the article references, a site who will provide you with logins to popular media sites (New York Times, Washington Post, etc) that require you to register. Handy.