Archive for the ‘gaming the ratings’ Category

Web site tabs: Myprofile, Myfriends, Search…..Games?

I logged on to Trip Advisor today for the first time in awhile. There was awhile in my career for various competitive reasons I would visit Trip Advisor on weekly if not daily basis.

I have continued to log on, but log on sporadically.

Today, type the url into the browser bar, the page came up, I looked at the nav bar and found:
Home (ok that’s an easy one), Destinations (that means browse) and “Fun and Games?” What in the world?

By the way, the nav bar is a really easy way to see products that a web company are unveiling and promoting. Usually a product will get a nav bar location, once it’s proven and a promotion strategy is created for it.

Back to the title of this post, “Fun & Games?” How? Why?

It’s actually easy for a number of reasons given the convergence of a number of factors around online web development and publishing.

– Games are a great way to keep the user on a site and/or coming back to it. Do they have anything to do with the content? Well not always, but it serves as a branding and retention play for the site

– Games are relatively cheap to make; scratch that, game are very easy to copy. The production cost of a game is extremely cheap (probably as low as $5000 – $10K for a decent casual game with decent graphical treatment)

– Games increase time on the site: This is an important factor for brand advertising

– Games increase page views. Bonus that brand advertiser 1M page views per month and it really doesn’t cost you anything at this point.

Of course, this is nothing new. Back in 2003 or so, Orbitz (another travel site) introduced games as a component of a banner ad to increase brand awareness and drive better clickthrough rates.

However it seems that the breadth of sites doing this, in my unscientific review, is certainly increasing.

Some sites that I have noticed incorporating games into their content catalog:


iLike (which also profiles users based upon their games)

Windows Live (and it’s corresponding Live Club) (By the way, it much talked about how this club suffered poor industry PR as Comscore and others wrapped a users time in the club into search usage).

Seems like there is an opportunity for sites like iWin and Big Fish to develop an enterprise product. Or maybe this is a direction for some of the Facebook app game companies?


Exactly who is Hulu’s audience?

Interesting post on TVWeek yesterday: (

The “story” comments on an apparent contradiction in the demographics of the audience on Hulu.

Hitwise suggests that nearly 50% of the audience on the site is 55 years or older. That data is from March.

Hulu’s response was, “check Neislen.” Neilsen’s data suggests that only 14% of the audience is 55 years or older. This data if from February….oh, and it’s more beneficial to their ad selling.

There is one thing that is certain. This is ridiculous.

First, comparing to different days of traffic is a flawed comparison in online audience review. Comparing two differents months borders on sacrilegeous.

This is especially true with the combination of panel-based measurement and such a small traffic site like Hulu.

At fault here is NBC, not Hulu or Hitwise per se. NBC might direct a press inquiry to Neilsen, but they should take responsibility to investigate how these two measurements can be so widely skewed. Their business is online.

NBC is making major advances in cross platform programming and ad selling. They should not leave out cross platform measurement. It’s probably the most important to their future success as a media company.

I’ll continue to follow-up on this story and post how NBC addresses it.

Surely you must remember eFront Media?

I don’t begrudge business models online and I certainly don’t begrudge making money and providing for a family. However, what I do have a real problem with is manipulation of metrics.

“Metrics manipulation” goes like this if you are not familiar with it.

Company A reverse engineers how a ratings company like Comscore or Neilsen creates panel estimates.

A ratings company typically uses a very small panel to create a picture of how large in reach and unique users a web site or company is.

Company A cuts business deal, with very questionable visible value, to insure that their web links are placed within a property that will skew the rankings at a ratings firm.

A great example of this is inbedding links (for a price) with companies that give away free MySpace layouts, once a user uploads the free layout to MySpace….VIOLA!….you are linked from MySpace broad traffic numbers.

The next month the new ratings come out and Company A, through some unique linking practices, is able to generate a reach and unique count much higher than the traffic it actually owns or represents.

This has been going on for nearly a decade.

The best older example of this:

– eFront Media….if you remember their story, at one point they were a top 20 web company.

I only hope that those following similar practices can be trumped by better businesses run honestly.

Wow….Kaboodle…really…smart…but shady

I’m wondering if the Hearst company has figured out yet that the little “social shopping” site they bought gets half of its users from…..well not really MySpace, though Comscore says that, but free myspace templates that are then distributed on MySpace.

I’m wondering whether a template has a credit card or fits a DMA demographic.