Thursday, April 17, 2008

Alexa finally tries to catch up

Alexa recently announced their new rankings system. This is an overhaul long in the waiting. When Alexa came on the scene it quickly became a staple reference measure though as other players started to emerge, they were quick to point out why they were better than Alexa - primarily by stating that toolbar users are not representative.

Alexa's metrics were initially compiled from users of their toolbar and with this update they are finally addressing this.

In recent months we've heard from our Alexa users that understanding Internet usage beyond Alexa Toolbar users was increasingly of interest. Ask and you shall receive!

We listened to your suggestions, and we believe that our new rankings system is much closer to what you asked for. We now aggregate data from multiple sources to give you a better indication of website popularity among the entire population of Internet users.

It will be interesting to watch people and competitors compare and comment on the newly update measures. Further, will the new metrics start to align closer with Compete, comScore or Quantcast?

The tricky thing with the notion of 'free' online metrics is that like many free services, some level of inaccuracy is generally acceptable; maybe this is why Alexa ratings have long been referenced though questionable. 

As these 'free' metrics start becoming more and more sophisticated, at what point are their limitation considered ok? This poses a particular challenge to the high end and expensive analytics providers. 

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