NONE: RE: ONLINE-ADS>> Determining visitors (fwd)

RE: ONLINE-ADS>> Determining visitors (fwd)

Steve Podradchik (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 17:04:41 -0800

Hi Claude,

Visits, Visitors, etc. is not only confusing but, as with much of the
Internet, subject to different interpretation. Here's what we do
(Marketwave's Hit List Std and Pro log analyzers)

1. Visitors. Generally speaking, this is just defined as the # of
unique IPs that came to the site during the time period. However, if
you use cookies to get around the infamous IP re-cycling issue (that is,
especially when dealing within corporate nets or ISPs, an specific IP
address is often used again and again), you can tell HL to take your
cookies into consideration when doing this calc. One of the built-in
reports, Cookie Analysis, shows the difference between the two calc.
methods for such cookie-oriented sites. The difference is not usually
gigantic but can be, depending on your site. If your site requires
users to log in (username/password stuff), then you can get essentially
perfect Visitor stats by looking at the # of authenticated users.

2. Rather than Visitors, you might consider gauging activity by looking
at the # of Visits that your site got. A Visit, or User-Session in some
software, is generally defined as a collection of Request (aka Hits--
HTML pages, graphics, etc.) that were generated by one user during a
visit to your site. The # of Visits is, by definition, equal to or
greater than the # of Visitors. It's almost always greater because each
Visitor, as calculated above, may visit the site > once during the
period. This is generally a more accurate measure because it takes the
whole IP recycling problem into account when doing the calc. For
example, if Hit List sees two hits from one IP but those hits are
separated by 6 hours, it's almost certainly a different Visit, possibly
from a different person. HL determines Visits based on several factors
including the time difference between conseq. hits (default threshold is
15 minutes but you can tune this to match your situation), browser ID
strings, cookies, virtual domains, etc. Most other s/w does something

3. Re: what to use. If your needs are very, very simple -- like How
Many Hits Did I Get Per URL, then you should probably just use a piece
of simple shareware. If you need to show #s to advertisers, then you
might need to get your #s blessed by a neutral 3rd party. If you rely
on these stats to make biz. decisions (like *How* are people using my
site? What are they finding? What are they missing? How are they
jumping around? What are the weekly/monthly/Whatever trends? Detailed ad
report, complex crosstabs, etc.) then you should probably look at the
commercial s/w vendors -- especially if your site uses database
generated pages via Cold Fusion, etc.. Yahoo, for example, has a pretty
comprehensive list of vendors. None of these solutions are necessarily
exclusive, btw. For example, some of our major customers use HL Pro to
parse their query and referrer strings (something HL excels at) and do
complex analysis but also use a piece of simple shareware to quickly
count hits and a 3rd party to produce reports for their advertisers.

Hope that helps,

Steve Podradchik


>From: Claude L. Johnson[]
>1. How are readers of this list determining "unique" visitors?
>2. What software do you use to arrive at these numbers? Commercial,
>free,or custom programmed?
>5. Based on your experience, what is the best way to determine the
>number of visitors? I wish to be able to accurately calculate that number
>for my site.

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