Iain Dale has been overstating his visitor stats

This entry was posted on
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
12:50 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Let me give the short version for those for those who don’t wish to dig through all of this:

Iain Dale has replied to my recent post about his outlandish traffic claims and has – in his post – inadvertently revealed exactly how he’s been diddling his figures (details are below).

Iain Dale is NOT getting in excess of 200,000 unique visitors a month as he has repeatedly claimed. He is, instead, getting somewhere around 50,000 unique visitors a month.

To show you that this isn’t a pissing competition but rather one person pointing out that Iain Dale and Paul Staines can’t piss anywhere near as high as they claim, I will happily admit that – currently – I am getting 23,971 unique visitors a month.

Now on with the fisk…

Iain Dale – March Statporn

March saw 239,368 unique visitors (2007 212,725 – up 12.5% year on year). Page impressions were 357,353 (2007 369,696 down 3%). Absolute uniques were 53,255 (2007 – 40,996 – up 30%).

Well, unlike Paul Staines, Iain Dale has made it past the headline without difficulty…. but he lets himself down badly in the first paragraph.

You can see from the screen capture that Iain provides that he is today – and probably always has been – using the figure for ‘visits’ as a figure for ‘unique visitors’:

One sentence in, and he’s flat on his face.

I can’t believe I have to explain this, but here goes…

If I visit your house I am a visitor. If I visit your house twice, it does NOT make me two visitors, but instead a single visitor who has made two visits.

(Mind you, given Iain’s ongoing interest in sock-puppetry, I can see why he might be confused by this relatively straightforward concept.)

I’ve posted the screenshot which these figures are derived from as a certain blogger has sought to pour doubt on them. Despite being a self-styled interweb “guru”, he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between unique visitors and absolute visitors.

Ah. Projection. One of Iain’s favourite tricks. This is why he’s doing it on the subject of expertise.

So let’s get back to someone who is a self-styled interweb ‘expert’ (who may in fact be a bit confused at times about how the tubes work) and see what he thinks about the whole absolute unique visitors thing:

An absolute unique is someone who visits the blog at least once a month (ie 53,255).

No, an ‘absolute unique visitor’ is someone who – to the best of Google’s knowledge – has visited your site only once (important bit coming up ) within a selected date range.

A ‘unique visitor’ in other words.

[Psst! ‘Absolute’ is a comforting addition from Google, and it;s totally warranted, as their method is a fine improvement on most older/other ways of detecting/calculating unique visitors. A bit of maths for you while I have you trapped between brackets: if I get 1000 AUVs on Monday, and I then get 1500 AUVs on Tuesday – 500 of which also visited the site on Monday – if I then select a date range for both days, the total number of AUVs given by Google Analytics is 2000… *not* 2500. Google rocks.]

I do understand this, which is why, when showing everyone what a load of old bollocks Staines’s stats are, I did not present the monthly figure shown in the passage below as an exact fraction, but as an estimate along with the word ‘maybe’:

Dec Stat Porn: “Using the stricter ‘absolute visitors’ metric gives 561,352 different individuals visiting this blog over the year.”

So that’s maybe 50,000 absolute unique visitors a month, then. A far cry from 350,000 a month isn’t it?

So, let’s get back to our ‘expert’…

A unique visitor is someone who visits the blog at least once a day – these are then amalgamated to get the monthly total of 239,368.

No, a unique visitor is a visitor visiting from a unique computer.

He or she may be visiting from different computers at times, which makes them appear to be more than one unique visitor, but it’s confusing enough as it is for Iain, so let’s move on…

The number of visits these visitors make are, surprisingly enough, added up to make a total of… visits.

Not a total of visitors.

The total of visitorrrrs that Google Analytics gives is… the total of ‘absolute unique visitors’ (within the date range that you specify).

Note that he provides no evidence to support his own figures, like a screenshot or anything.

There’s that projection again.

1. Iain only caught up with April Fool’s Day when it was 5 hours too late, so he may have missed the period before midday when I was having fun with my readers by initially presenting the stat-porn alone in this post in exactly the same format/style as Iain.

Look. See?

Iain is, in effect, criticising himself for not providing proof.


2. As Iain’s friend and political associate Dizzy is fond of pointing out, a screen capture alone is not proof*. Erm, unless of course someone produces a screen shot themselves that proves they’re an idiot. Like Iain just has, if you recall:

[*You may note in this report on Paul Staines’ stats that Staines has changed data on some graphs.]

Guido believes the MSM blogs are catching up with us in terms of traffic and he’s right. In terms of popularity, while traffic on blogs continues to grow, the upward line on the graph is certainly levelling off.

At the risk of repeating myself: Hahahahaha! “I’m so far ahead of mainstream media that they’re only starting to appear on my radar.” Bless.

One thing I do agree with Bloggerheads on is that it is absolute uniques which are the most important figure.

Then perhaps Iain can start using that figure instead of passing off the visits figure as a total of unique visitors, as he appears to have been doing for quite some time now.

Iain claims to have 239,368 unique visitors this month, when really he’s only had something like a fifth of that traffic; 53,255 unique visitors.

For any one man band blogger like Guido or me to have upwards of 50,000 people read us every month is, I believe, something to be proud of.

Hahahaha! That’s the spirit, Iain. If you’re going to come down from a quarter of a million to fifty thousand, try to do it with your head held high. This will at least stop the bullshit on your lips from dripping down your chin.

Others are now catching us up. Dizzy doesn’t do Statporn, but if he did, I reckon his figures will have doubled in the last year.

Bwahahahahahaha! I do love his historical revisionism. The way Iain likes to tell it, he’s a long-standing blogging pioneer and everyone’s behind him. But he’s a blip. And he owes what success he has enjoyed to bullshitting everyone about how successful he is; that’s what gets him all the MSM attention that feeds his little publicity machine.

The less said about what Dizzy does to get ahead in political blogging, the better.

So… here we are.

This is no one-off error; Iain Dale appears to have been presenting of the number of visits as the number of unique visitors for ages now. It’s quite likely that Paul Staines has been doing exactly the same thing.

If these figures form the foundation of the promo toss for MessageSpace (Dale and Staines are their two biggest bloggers… allegedly), then we have a bit of a problem on our hands…

Read the following knowing that Dale and Staines are getting maybe a fifth of the number of unique visitors per month that they’re claiming:

MessageSpace claims here that; “Publishers on the MessageSpace network show 4 million adverts a month, to more than 700,000 unique readers.”

I sincerely doubt that this claim is anywhere near the truth.

About Tim Ireland

Tim is the sole author of Bloggerheads.
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