What’s really Behind CNET’s comScore Dispute

Will CNET explanation for its decline in Q3 page views appease Wall Street? The jury is still out.
Page views fell 13 percent to about 86 million per day, while monthly unique visitors jumped 13 percent to an average of 125 million. “While page views are an important metric, they are not the sole determinant of either our user interaction or the quality of our user experience,” said new CEO Neil Ashe, in Monday’s earnings conference call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “In some cases, we purposely decided to streamline navigation to create better user views and reduce the number of page views per viewer.”
Seeking Alpha’s David Jackson notes todaythat since blogs can offer multiple articles on a single page, they are pressuring paid sites like CNET to improve their usability. Blogs are carrying more ads and Web publishers have been forced to reduce the number of page views per article, Jackson writes. He says the impact of these developments is “probably negative” for companies like CNET.
Ashe made his remarks to counter a Wall Street analyst’s report that said that comScore data showed a 50 percent decline in traffic. Wall Street takes what comScore says seriously, so he had to address the issue. Complaints about third-party data aren’t that unusual though they are usually kept out of the public. One exception to this was Yahoo, which several months ago complained that market researchers weren’t accurately measuring its search business.
Even if one takes Ashe’s statement at face value, it may do little to calm the already frayed nerves of CNET investors, who saw CEO Shelby Bonnie resign amidst questions about options backdating. Bonnie remains on the company’s board. CNET has also delayed reporting its quarterly results. Its shares have dropped 42 percent this year.

Comments have been disabled for this post