Red Sheriff online figures finally available

Red Sheriff has finally released its first batch of figures on the New Zealand online publishing industry and, despite taking longer than expected, it's pleased with the outcome.

Top 10 Websites: October 6-13, 2002

Red Sheriff has finally released its first batch of figures on the New Zealand online publishing industry and, despite taking longer than expected, it’s pleased with the outcome.

Philip Whinnen, vice president of Red Sheriff south Asia, says the delays were more due to a "steep learning curve" for Red Sheriff and its consortium of online publishers than teething problems.

"It's been about getting the clients used to the system I think. It's more involved than anything they've come across before because there is more they can do with the service."

Whinnen says while Red Sheriff's system revolves around a simple piece of code that is added to a customer's website, this has to be tweaked for differences in design and site structure, all of which takes time.

The first round of numbers were due to be published at the end of September, however Red Sheriff found it needed extra time, and more hardware, to compile the figures.

"I've had to go out and buy more server capacity which is great to see - they're really getting into it and demanding more from the service."

Red Sheriff, along with research house Phoenix Research, won the contract to provide statistical information on web usage in New Zealand put out by a consortium of online publishers, including IDG Communications, publisher of this website. The qualitative side of the survey, from Phoenix Research, will be available from December.

The biggest surprise from the first round of figures (see chart above) is the overall number of users visiting a site. XtraMSN, for example, is roughly 75% larger than previous estimates. Whinnen says because Red Sheriff's system tracks every user regardless of how or when they access the site, it is picking up more users.

"In Australia, a panel-based service for one of the major news portals was recording the numbers at as much as 50% below the numbers they get from us."

Whinnen says most panels don't include business users and since many sites are accessed most often during the day, this skews the numbers dramatically.

"These guys demand absolute accuracy because they're a business. They're not on the web for fun, they're using it to try and make a living. If their figures are understated by some large percentage, then it harms their business."

Whinnen hopes these kinds of figures will allow website publishers to better convince advertisers of the market they are generating and so encourage the advertisers to spend more online.

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First figures from Red Sheriff due next week

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