Exit Music (for a comScore Study)
Add top-selling British rock band Radiohead to the list of those who’ve questioned the validity of comScore’s panel-based traffic data. In a statement issued yesterday, the band disputed comScore’s claim that 60% of the people who downloaded its new album, “In Rainbows,” didn’t pay a cent for it.
“In response to purely speculative figures announced in the press regarding the number of downloads and the price paid for the album, the group would like to remind people that, as the album could only be downloaded from the band’s Web site, it is impossible for outside organizations to have accurate figures on sales,” Radiohead’s representatives said in a statement. “However, they can confirm that the figures quoted by the company comScore are wholly inaccurate and in no way reflect definitive market intelligence or, indeed, the true success of the project.”
Quite a rebuke. And one with which it’s difficult to disagree–though comScore did try its best. “For the Radiohead study, we observed the activity of nearly one thousand people who visited the ‘In Rainbows’ site, a significant percentage of whom downloaded the album,” comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman explained in a post to the company’s blog. “We ultimately observed several hundred paid transactions, all of which ranged between $0-$20, representing a very robust sample for estimating the average price paid per transaction. It’s true that any sample has natural variability, so these numbers are, in fact, estimates. However, when you have a relatively large sample falling within a narrow range of values (i.e. there’s a small standard deviation), the margin of error in the estimate is minimized. … We observed the actual online spending behavior from a robust sample of hundreds of individuals in order to produce an accurate estimate. If we didn’t have a reasonable sample from which to extrapolate, we wouldn’t have released the data. But we did, and we’re confident in what the data showed.”
At least until Radiohead releases official download figures for the album …