Guess Who’s Watching You

Guess Who’s Watching You

We’ve all done it, right?  We’ve all used to get an idea of how much traffic a particular site gets.  Maybe you’re wondering how much traffic your developed site gets compared to your competitors.  Maybe you’re just curious how well a particular site is doing.  If you haven’t tried it yourself, you’ve probably seen a writer reference stats from in a blog post or article.  To satisfy my curiosity, I reached out to Aaron Smolick, Senior Director of Marketing at Compete.

Mike:  At its simplest, Compete provides traffic metrics and comparisons across multiple websites.  Tell me about some of the other features and analytics of the tool.

Aaron:  Compete has so many offerings, I could go on all day, but below are a few worth highlighting:
Site Profiles – traffic, engagement, and audience metrics for the top 1,000,000 websites.
Referral Analytics – Drills down into a website’s traffic acquisition strategy. You can also see where people go when they leave your site or your competitors’ site (great for retargeting campaign planning).
Search Analytics – Monitor search engine traffic and realize the breakout for paid and natural volume. Also, dive deep into performance at the keyword level and find keywords proven to drive engagement.
Ranked Lists – Pull lists of up to 15,000 domains ranked by traffic or engagement metrics.
Category Profiles – Monitor online traffic by industry or behavioral segment and determine market share for specific websites. Also, see all keywords driving traffic to that industry or segment.
Customized Solutions – Several of Compete’s larger clients use customized products to measure consumer behavior and online marketing and advertising effectiveness.

Mike:  What are some of the reasons people choose to use

Aaron:  Compete is one of the only digital intelligence providers to grant all Internet users free access to its data.

In addition, Compete offers daily estimates of the share of consumer attention and reach of the top sites on the Internet and the velocity at which these metrics change. Compete PRO (our online paid subscription service) is one of the only providers to offer a comprehensive suite of digital intelligence tools online. With Compete PRO, users can monitor their competitor’s online performance, benchmark against them, and gather sound insights to support their online marketing strategy and planning.

Mike:  Can the information be used to improve SEO or PPC advertising results?

Aaron:  Yes. Compete PRO’s Search Analytics tool allows search marketers to analyze SEM performance for a given website. It makes it possible for companies to easily monitor competitors’ natural and paid search spend to determine changes in budget or optimizations. It also shows keyword level data, such as keyword, share of total search and how much of the traffic driven by that keyword is via paid or natural search. SEOs can use this information to determine which keywords are worth investing in for content creation. PPC advertisers benefit from using search analytics, as they can simply export a list of keywords driving traffic to a rival company and load it into their own campaign via bulk sheet. Finding keywords proven to drive engagement is also made easy with an average time index metric for each keyword. Search Analytics allows users to type in a keyword or phrase and see which website generates the most traffic. This is great for measuring the impact of SEM campaigns (by monitoring site ranking) or for finding excellent examples of SEO for a specific keyword.

Mike:  Do advertisers use the data when considering advertising on a particular site?

Aaron:  Yes. Compete PRO allows advertisers to easily assess how large a particular website is, how engaged people are with  it, the audience demographic, and which  channels (social, search, shopping websites) are being used to direct traffic to it. Using Audience Profiles, advertisers can even download a tag from Compete onto their website and get a deep dive into demographics, interests, and DMAs of their own traffic. Some advertisers, like, have even decided to make their audience profile public to give advertisers the ability to easily determine if their website’s audience makes a good match with their target.

Mike:  What is the source of the data used to calculate things such as a websites traffic metrics?  How accurate are the estimates?

Aaron:  Powered by online consumer behavior data from the industry’s largest, most diverse and most actionable panel of Internet users, Compete uses proprietary methodology to aggregate, normalize and project the data to estimate total traffic, rank and other statistics for the top 1,000,000 sites on the web. More comprehensive metrics studies are done for Compete clients.

Our panel methodology merges clickstream data from ISPs with Application Service providers to form a single, statistically-representative consumer panel. Compete’s methodology uses the multiple individual sources that comprise our panel to normalize, calibrate, and project accurate audience and engagement metrics. No other panel can represent highly fragmented online audiences as effectively as the Compete panel.

Compete’s site profiles estimate how many people visit a site from a diverse sample of people that is statistically normalized and projected to represent the size and demographic composition of the total active U.S. Internet population. Compete does not rely on cookies which are often used by log files and web metrics firms. Because of cookie deletion, return visits by the same person (with deleted cookies) wrongly appear to be a new unique visitor. In addition, if cookie implementation on the server side is done incorrectly with vague or inconsistent definitions, visitors will be over counted. Compete measures only U.S. activity. Traffic at sites with significant international visitors will be understated by Compete’s projections. In addition, local analytic solutions will often include the activity of spiders and bots that appear as traffic, but do not represent actual human activity. Compete’s services do not rely on log files or cookies and therefore do not count this activity as traffic.

Mike:  What features does Compete Pro offer that the standard version does not?

Aaron:  While a free Compete account will grant access to a range of useful account features and to directly track and report on Audience Profiles, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Compete PRO is so jam-packed with tools, features and additional data that it would take entirely too long for me to spell them all out for you so I suggest referring to this chart:

Mike: Are there any new features or additions we can expect from in the near future?

Aaron:  Compete continually strives to measure the online world with cutting-edge products and industry approved privacy standards. Our partnerships with Omniture, Fox Audience Network, GroupM MIG, Kantar Retail and J.D. Power help to connect the dots with valuable purchasing data. Our relationship with Kantar and WPP has allowed us to continually invest in new online measurement initiatives, evolve our data methodology and pave the way for Compete’s global platform.

Please feel free to visit our website anytime at for additional information.

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Comments (3)

  • Mark Reply

    Take the Compete data with a pinch of salt. It doesn’t always get it right.

    To pick one example:
    I have one site which Compete reckons gets 342 unique visitors per month – it’s actually getting 30,000 consistently – mostly from search.

    That’s 87 times as many uniques as the Compete data says.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:07 am
  • RH Reply

    Mike is compete accurate for you ? It says you had 11,538 for last month.

    October 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm
    • Mike Sullivan Reply

      @RH, that’s the equivalent of asking a woman how much she weighs 🙂 Just kidding. It’s fairly close to what my stats show, definitely not exact. But for ball park, not too bad.

      October 22, 2010 at 7:51 pm

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