There has been quite an uproar in the digital space over the last week. Allegations have been levelled against Internet radio companies 2OceansVibe, Ballz Radio and Kingfisher FM regarding the accuracy of visitor data, and these have brought to light the topic of what, exactly, constitutes accurate and legitimate data.
These three Internet radio stations in South Africa used NetDynamix to host their service, and left it to NetDynamix to report usage and visitor statistics. Shaun Dewberry, a popular and influential IT analyst, smelled a rat when he saw the incredible stats – promptly accusing these stations of publishing false statistics in an attempt to gain media support from advertisers. This has resulted in many now questioning the reliability and popularity or streaming Internet radio – and the data used to measure it.
Similar controversies can be prevented quite easily – people who run online businesses need to understand the medium that is so essential to their success. It is up to the company and its employees to ensure that they fully understand, and are able to stand by data that is released to their stakeholders.
The best way to keep abreast of terminology, metrics and irregularities is to get educated. It’s a lot simpler than you may think to get a broad sense of how Web data works. Educating yourself about your channel and understanding the terminology is key to operating in the digital space.
It is important for stakeholders to trust your data; presenting them with false statistics will only make listeners, advertisers and industry members think of you as clueless – or, worse, deceitful. With such rapid change, growth and new technologies in the digital industry, it becomes even more important to continuously educate yourself and those around you.
Sit down with your analytics provider and discuss the best metrics for you and what they mean. The Internet also provides a wealth of knowledge on analytics terms and jargon for a variety of channels. These days, there’s no excuse for staying ignorant.
The Value of Good Data
Data is the advantage that digital has over any other channel. You can justify a higher budget or attract advertisers by presenting them with valuable, reliable and truthful statistics about your service. Too many believe that it is easy to fabricate data – and to some extent, it is – but you will get caught. And when you do, your stakeholders and the public will lose faith in you and your reputation will be tarnished.
In this specific case, the mistake probably comes down to miscommunication from both the host and the clients. The term session, for example,was used interchangeably with the term unique visitor. A session refers to the total number of connections to a server – this could include connections that were lost and re-established. Unique visitors, on the other hand, are the total number of individual browsers (real people) who were listening during a given period. An easy mistake to make for a novice Web analyst – but an easy one to catch if the business owner has a basic understanding of the terminology involved.
This misunderstanding highlights the importance of getting educated – had the stations taken a step back and questioned these high figures or thought about the broader picture of the Internet radio industry in South Africa, they may have prevented this unfavourable publicity.
At Quirk, we make it a priority to educate our QuirkStars and clients about the importance of accurate data and the terminology that goes along with it. It’s our bread and butter, after all.
Do you work in the digital industry? We would love to hear how you stay educated about data and analytics.