Throughout Asia -- especially in Hong Kong, Singapore and China -- I hear of advertisers' need for transparency in an objective online measurement method.
The issue businesses have is, how do they measure the quality and frequency of visitors to a website?
In the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, the only statistics available were the ones that the Internet Service Providers Web Server Logs measured. However, that is far from being accurate.
Other providers of site-centric measurement are notables like Omniture and Google's Analytics products, which is, incidentally, "free".
However, where the site centric measurement tool places the Java Script Code or 1x1 Pixels to determine or count a visit can significantly alter how many page views are registered.
Working previously in that field, I was surprised to hear of a client who placed three site-centric tools on their pages and got totally divergent results.
But no matter how well they measured a site's traffic, one could not get information about a competitor's traffic or for another website that one does not control.
At Hitwise, comparative measurement is done by tracking Internet users at the country level. In Singapore, for example, it is close to 1.5 million Internet users and globally it is 25 million users.
Reporting on visits, page views and session duration of all sites can help to provide "objective" means of comparing websites' performances.
Not only can you rank sites that offer similar content and benchmark them according to their relative number of visitors, page impressions generated and timed sessions logged, but you can also look at which websites all those local online users are going to.
This means you can assess the actual effectiveness of an online advertisement by looking at how much more traffic it generated for the advertiser.
You can map this out using Hitwise's Clickstream product by assessing/charting the surge of traffic following an online campaign.
You might think that Double Click or Ad Serving Companies can do that too. Well, the data they have is based on ads that actually ran. It only tells you when someone has clicked on an Ad.
It does not say anything about the number of visitors to that page, page impressions generated or time sessions.
When it comes to measurement and those who profess to provide data on how Internet users are surfing the Web, there are also other providers like Comscore or Nielsen's market intelligence.
They have a vastly different methodology. Nielsen's tracks a few of the major publishers while Comscore gathers data via opt-in panels.
This means that an Internet user would have to willingly allow a panel -based measurement organisation to install software on their Computer so as to track their online activity.
Activities such as checking the weather as well as visiting banking sites and financial institutions are in theory being tracked for the willing panelist.
There are many ways to measure Internet consumption, depending on what you require the data for.
In these tumultuous financial times, marketers cannot afford to be complacent and simply advertise on what worked in the past.
Make those marketing dollars count and generate branding outcomes that can give you the most value.