Measuring the internet
“The Net… is different,” wrote Randall Rothenberg in Wired in January 1998. “The Net is accountable. It is knowable. It is the highway leading marketers to their Holy Grail: single-sourcing technology that can definitively tie the information consumers perceive to the purchases they make.”
What we have learned in the decade-and-a-half since is that some of what happens on the internet is much more accountable. Newspapers, for example, have learned which of their stories attract online readers in a way they never knew offline. Digital technology has given us many better tools to measure what people are doing with media.
But it has also enabled people to do new things with media that are incredibly hard to measure reliably. Audiences and users may have become less knowable at precisely the moment when we thought we finally had the technology to pin them down. Some extraordinary machines have been built to drive that highway to the marketers’ Holy Grail, but the road still winds on and uphill…
Photo: Nicole Emanuel/ The Age