End of summer pandemonium and the beginning of wistfulness

A few years ago, while driving the backroads of the Cape to avoid the traffic snarls on the main drags, I was listening to WOMR – Outermost Radio — the weirdest radio station on Cape Cod and what you would expect from a radio station in Provincetown, the funkiest place on Cape Cod. The signal is faint, but where else can you listen to John Philip Sousa hour on Saturday mornings, followed by Tuvan Throat Singers, followed by the commercial fish landing report?

A song came on, I’d heard it before, September Song, a weepy classic from 1938 written by Kurt Weill.

“ Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you
These precious days I’ll spend with you”

The song summed up, right then, in the third week of September, with Cape Cod at its peak in terms of glorious weather, the bittersweet emotion of a summer’s passing in a resort town. While we natives may say good riddance to the craziness of the silly season, we know the northeasters of winter lie ahead, when the landscape turns into a black and white movie, and Cape Cod goes from glorious to bleak. I for one, will not be standing on an overpass over Route 6 waving goodbye to the Volvos with their kayaks and bicycles.
This summer seemed to end two weeks ago. Blame it on early school openings, but the traditional punction mark of Labor Day is gone. My two youngest start school on the 10th of September, my eldest is heading back to college in NYC on the 3rd, out of boredom more than anything else. Me, I’m looking forward to some clamming, a little sailing, and forging onwards with winter projects. My summertime productivity sucks.

At Forbes.com, Lots of Glitter but Maybe Not So Many Visitors – New York Times

At Forbes.com, Lots of Glitter but Maybe Not So Many Visitors – New York Times

The Times slams into Forbes.com this morning on the eternal subject of squishy traffic numbers. This is an issue endemic to the online media industry, one that harks back to the days of Time-Warner’s Pathfinder when Gerald Levin would boast about millions of “hits.” Now that the industry has settled down and focused on unique visitors, there is still a vast discrepancy between the external traffic reporters — ComScore, Nielsen, Alexa, etc. — and a site’s own server logs, ostensibly the only true measure of traffic, yet one wholly dependent on what filters and analytics are being applied to the raw numbers.

With no equivalent to the magazine industry’s third-party audit structure in place (BPA, etc.), online media has been able to play a game of squishy reporting since 1994. Take a good stat, lead with it, and let the rest of the numbers fall where they may.

“But a closer look at the numbers raises questions about Forbes.com’s industry-leading success. For its claim of a worldwide audience of nearly 15.3 million, it has been citing February data from comScore Media Metrix, one of the two leading providers of third-party Web traffic data.

“There are several problems with that statistic, though, and comScore has since revised the figure downward to less than 13.2 million as part of a broader revamping of its worldwide data for many sites. Jack Flanagan, executive vice president at comScore Media Metrix, said the new figures were released “a couple of months ago” after it changed its methods for estimating global audiences.”

While bragging rights are nice — “We’re the biggest” is always a nice marketing message — the advertisers are the one’s who are best placed to develop the metric that measures and that comes down to conversions. Forget CTR (click-through rates, forget reach (monthly uniques, visits), and focus on what happens to the referred traffic once it arrives in the form of generated leads, shoppers, etc. The notion that any media buyer would give more than a passing glance at gross tonnage metrics is risible. It’s their own metrics, how they measure what they’ve bought, that determines whether they’ll renew a campaign or drop it.

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