Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Now It’s a Race: ComScore Adds Up Web, Mobile and App Eyeballs for the First Time

Big news for Web publishers whose users are increasingly visiting them on their phones: They’re going to start getting credit for those eyeballs, via a new scoring system from comScore.

How much that credit is worth is an open and important question for Web publishers. Because right now most of them have to offer advertisers a very steep discount on mobile eyeballs — as much as 80 percent off of desktop rates.

But addressing that problem will take some time, and at the very least this is an important first step.

And for some sites and services that exist predominantly on mobile sites, the new comScore ratings are going to be a big help. Because they’ll help them justify their pitch — hey, we may not be that big on the Web, but we’re huge on phones — to advertisers.

It’s also a nice reality check for the many app start-ups that are happy to tell you how many downloads they have, but don’t want to talk about how many people use them.

On to the new rankings, which comScore is calling its “Multi Platform” listings. They attempt to track visitors to Web sites, mobile sites and mobile apps, and then combine those tallies without duplicating visits, for a true sense of a publisher’s monthly traffic.

That is: If you visited Facebook on your iPhone app in November, you’ll count as a single unique user; if you also came to the site via your PC in November, Facebook’s unique user count won’t go up.

A few takeaways from the new rankings — you can see a Top 30 list here:

  • Most of the top players on the Web are still the top players once you add in their mobile audiences. And Google, of course, is still the biggest. But many publishers are now much bigger, and that’s enough to move them up a slot or two. It’s a big deal for Facebook, for instance, to move from No. 4 to No. 3, passing by Microsoft, which used to be No. 2.
  • The new rankings definitely boost some big players with very big mobile audiences: Note the huge leaps for ESPN and Pandora, with the latter cracking the Top 30 list for the first time. Twitter’s argument that it’s very much a mobile company gets additional credence here, too, since the new rankings bump its total audience up by more than 50 percent.
  • Note that these rankings are only for the U.S., so it’s possible that some sites would see their scores shoot even higher when you factor in countries where phones are more common than PCs.

And here’s another interesting way to look at the new data — a list of the sites that saw the biggest percentage increase from mobile (click chart to enlarge):

Cooliris, by the way, is a native app on many Android devices, which accounts for the huge spike there. And Zynga’s rise is likely a bit overstated, since most of its real Web traffic gets assigned to Facebook, which is where most of its users encounter the service.

But there are lots of other good nuggets in there. Yesterday, for instance, Groupon’s embattled Andrew Mason said that his company has seen a huge uptake on phones; comScore says he’s right.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Mikhail Pogosov)


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik