Over the past year or so the frustration with web statistics tracking services along the lines of Alexa and Comscore has grown. As companies look for validation, VCs look to measure potential investments, and bloggers find interesting things to talk about, accurate stat services are something everyone wants.
Yet people are frustrated with the current offerings. It has lead to the launch (or at least growth in prominence) of Compete.com and Quantcast. I like seeing more players in the field, and I especially like how Quantcast actually allows publishers to put a tracking tag on your site to give them accurate data. Now, the problem is that although my data is accurate since I choose to send data to Quantcast, it’s only a small minority of sites out there participating. When you put the effort on the publisher’s side without providing them obvious benefits, it’s hard to expect much of an uptake.
We know the “panel approach” or “sampling” of web visitors has its flaws. We know the Alexa toolbar approach has its flaws. We know the Quantcast tag approach will struggle to get enough publishers using it. So how do we get reliable data?
One thought I’ve had is if there was some sort of Firefox/browser plugin that people could use that reported your browsing data to a central service that then made rankings based on that. The problem is it’d be skewed towards the Firefox audience, and what is in it for the average web user to want that plugin?
So what if Firefox just did this by default? Maybe it was a privacy option they allowed you to turn off. Of course it would be anonymous, but Firefox itself could become a ranking service based on data it collects from users. Perhaps Microsoft could do this with IE, but I think people would be less trusting of their use of data compared to Firefox.
I’m sure there’s reasons the browsers can’t/won’t do this I’m not really thinking of, but what’s stopping Firefox from also ranking sites and providing us the closest thing we could get to accurate traffic statistics?