Just before Christmas online stats provider Quantcast rolled out an upgrade, delivering new features that take it into Compete and Alexa territory.
I've been a big fan of Quantcast this year, and named it in August my best free stats service provider. The key difference then, as it is today is that Quantcast offers direct site measurement; the short version is that you can install code on your site that sends data back to Quantcast. That data is then displayed in preference to panel data, something neither Alexa nor Compete offer.
The scope though is only as good as the number of sites being direct measured, but as the year closes that number continues to increase. I've even had discussions recently with people in the advertising industry who have told me that Quantcast is starting to be used in place of, or along side comScore data for ad buys because of the direct measurement of sites. Most large sites are on Quantcast now, and that includes most of the top of the tech blogosphere.
The new tools offer improved site comparison. Quantcast did offer site comparison previously, but with a chart that was difficult to read and not particularly useful. The new comparison chart is a direct take on Alexa and Compete, but with real data, not panel or toolbar data for sites with the Quantcast code.
Robert Scoble pointed to a Inquisitr vs TechCrunch chart in a post today; I can't actually compare the data side by side because Michael Arrington has taken the decision to block data in Quantcast (they allow site owners to do that, except for totals) but I can do a total figure comparison
Quantcast gives The Inquisitr just shy of 1 million people a month with 723,000 US, Compete gives us 291,000. One is close to being accurate, one isn't.
Lets try one I can do a chart comparison on: ReadWriteWeb
As well as offering up to date data, something Compete doesn't, the knowledge that Quantcast offers actual data from a site to me offers better value than a panel or toolbar estimate.
There are two provisos with Quantcast's data: In my experience it does tend to under-report data slightly (around 10-20%), and for sites not using direct measurement, the data can be very hit and miss, but no more so than data from Compete or Alexa.
Why Quantcast will rock 2009
Quantcast is doing all the right things in data at the moment. What was already a great service is now better, and finally we have a tool that can be used for site comparison services that offers a direct competitor to Compete and Alexa, and dare I say a better service at that.
This is a company that is listening to feedback and acting on it, there can be no other explanation for offering such a product many have been wanting for years.
As the momentum builds and more and more sites join, Quantcast will rock 2009. We are seeing the rise of a true Alexa killer at last.
Post note: one interesting thing is the decision of some sites to block their stats; this may dilute some of the advantages Quantcast has, but likewise if ad providers are using this data and they don't have access, the sites choosing to block will themselves miss out. So much for openness and transparency in web 2.0.