I cannot understand why Ad Age has decided to adopt Alexa as a metric

I cannot understand why Ad Age has decided to adopt Alexa as a metric.

It is well known that Alexa has a strong bias towards tech and especially, as Naked PR eloquently states, webmasters. Furthermore, the Alexa ranking is given a score of 30. This gives it twice as much influence than Bloglines and places it on an equal footing with Technorati authority.

When I first put together the PowerPR index – which I’m considering renaming because quite frankly I’m not sure I want it to be associated with the Power150 in any form now – I tried replicating its Bloglines scores but found I was unable to do so. This is why I abandoned Bloglines, because I can’t trust it.

Furthermore, the Alexa scores were not at all comprehensive. So it goes even further than bias in any direction: a lot of blogs simply don’t have an Alexa ranking at all.

This is why I’ve deliberately chosen metrics that by and large, all if not the vast majority of blogs have. And the most recent enhancement, of including ‘time-based’ metrics such as the Google Blog Scores for the past month and Blogpulse over the past 180 days, seemed to me the natural way to go. If I’m to use freely available metrics then it made sense to reward blogs for being recently active and ‘buzzworthy’ as well as having legacy scores by dint of longevity.

The best attempt at providing a table of PR blogs that I’ve seen came from Onalytica. Having met Flemming Madsen I have some insight into the tried and tested statistical methods he uses, over time, to monitor influence by measuring inputs to blogs as well as outputs and using automated sentimenting to crunch through the numbers. It’s a pity that his first attempt exhibited some errors in the sample set of blogs he chose: I would love to see him have another stab at it. (Flemming, where are you?)

I’d also love it if someone like Flemming could see their way to providing online tools, free for all to use, that give limited access to their functionality, much in the same way Buzzmetrics do with their Blogpulse tools. I envisage a dashboard in which users can assemble their own league tables which analyse blogs using a standardised, statistically proven method of ranking. Then we’d really be getting somewhere, and Onalytica would rapidly build up a dedicated community of fellow measurement nuts.

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6 thoughts on “I cannot understand why Ad Age has decided to adopt Alexa as a metric

  1. Brendan,
    ProPR plumetted from 93 to 226 on the AdAge index. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t hurt. And why? Well, I have an Alexa rating of only 1. That’s ridiculously low when compared to the other measures.
    But, heck, maybe my ego was getting too big anyway…

  2. Ha! It had crossed my mind, if I’m truthful, that the fact I plummeted too did hurt a little! If nothing else it might spur us to become members of the Alexa universe! 🙂

  3. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

    I wish I had a blog at one of the big PR firms. Then I could have IT install the Alexa Toolbar on everyone’s browser, and make my blog everyone’s homepage.

    Just another system to get gamed.

  4. This is equally disappointing for me because I thought Ad Age and I were doing something that enhanced the list. I’ve shared your blog post (and Jenn’s from Naked PR) with the Ad Age team. The Ad Age folks and I were receiving complaints about Bloglines and suggestions for Alexa. We thought we were responding favorably to the community by reducing the Bloglines weight and adding Alexa. Now, it seems like Alexa is not welcomed. So, let me ask a couple questions…

    1) Should Alexa even be a metric on the Power 150? If so, what scale would you use to weight it? 1-20? 1-15? 1-10?
    2) What other metrics do you recommend for the Power 150 (it must offer an open API)?
    3) We know there is no such thing as a perfectly accurate ranking, but is there anything else you suggest to make the Power 150 stronger – keeping in mind that it is fully automated and requires third-party metrics to have open APIs?

    Thanks,
    Todd

  5. Hi Todd,

    First of all, I think it’s great that you’re openly sharing your concerns and reacting to comments in the blogosphere.

    Secondly, I wouldn’t use Alexa for the reasons stated. It’s just not universal enough and is heavily biased. I’d say any metric that requires anything to be installed, such as the Alexa toolbar, will have that problem. If you want to keep it then you could perhaps give it less weighting. I would certainly not give it the same weighting as Technorati for example.

    Thirdly, well, to be equally honest, I’d say that you could consider adopting some of the metrics I’ve used in my PowerPR list! Technorati offers three metrics – authority, rank and inboundlinks – which you could use rather than weighting just Authority. Yahoo has inlinks. And you also should be able to secure API access to Google and Google Blog hits. Then you can also look at activity over the past month with Google Blog hits.

    In fact, here’s a proposition: use some of the metrics I’ve suggested, and in the Power150 strapline, change it to ‘Todd Andrlik and Brendan Cooper rank the top media and marketing blogs.’

    How’s that for a suggestion? 🙂

    Regards
    Brendan

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