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Playing With Numbers

Mar 26, 2007 Michael Wurzer

Point2 recently announced the addition of some real time stats (IE Only!) to their site. After reluctantly switching to IE so I could check out the stats, I glanced through them and saw that they reported 15,542,076 page views for the last 30 days (as of 03/26/2007 at 4:54 p.m. CDT). That number surprised me because our hosted MLS system does about 2.5 million page views a day during the week. I looked up our numbers for the last 30 days and found we delivered 68,135,209 page views, or over four times what Point2 is doing.

The volume difference may be even more striking because Point2 claims 117,899 members, which is about three times more than we host (we have other clients that host the system in their own data center, but we currently host our system for about 35,000 end users). In other words, on a per user basis, our members appear to be using the system about ten times as much as Point2 users (1,793 page views a month versus about 132 for Point2). Why are these numbers so different?

One possibility is that the page views I quoted above for our system include what we call “public” traffic from our members’ clients through e-mails and their IDX web sites. The public traffic represents about 42% of our total traffic. I have no idea whether the Point2 numbers include any e-mail links or any other kind of traffic. But, even stripping out the public traffic, we’re still doing well over five times what Point2 is doing per user. Another possibility is that the user numbers Point2 reports are inflated by all the “standard” or non-paying users who’ve signed up. Yet another possibility is that page views really don’t mean much any more, as AJAX calls make the definition of “a page” pretty amorphous. Maybe they’re counting pages differently than we are, who knows? The bottom line is that it’s pretty hard to compare these numbers reliably, without knowing more, and that’s why I called the post “Playing With Numbers.” They’re fun to play around with but may not mean much at the end of the day.