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Ask for a definition of “Web metrics,” and those in the know will not hesitate to explain. But be prepared to hear different stories.

While there's no end of things to measure, there are two distinct factions when it comes to measuring the Web.

So, for purposes of clarification and elucidation, allow me to set the record straight and make life just a little easier for those of us trying to explain ourselves to colleagues, clients, friends, family, neighbors, pets, ceramics classmates and carpool members.


Web metrics is the measurement of what's happening on the Internet itself. Had I only known that way back in 2002, when I wrote a book called Metrics (John Wiley & Sons). Fortunately, I was allowed to add a subtitle: Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success. That, in a nutshell, is a wonderful definition for Web analytics.

Web metrics focuses on the number and types of people online, the number of broadband versus dial-up connections, advertisers, advertisements (shapes, sizes, level of annoyance) and all things related to the Internet as a whole.

How many Web sites are there? How many searches? How many emails? How many are spam? Does it make sense to promote items online for sale to certain countries or to seniors?

Web metrics are studied by companies with large panels of surfers whom they follow around online. These are the firms that report which Web sites are the most popular and can ask their panel members to run comparative tests of your competitors' sites.

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image of Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne (jsterne@targeting.com) is the founder and director of Target Marketing (www.targeting.com), founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.