A new product from ComScore takes into account both mobile and desktop when sizing a site's total Web audience. That would help some companies, like Facebook and Yahoo, but would hurt others, like Microsoft, which would fall to fourth place from its prior No. 2 slot.
ComScore, which tracks Web site visitors and other information, today unveiled its new digital audience measurement and media planning tool dubbed the "Media Metrix Multi-Platform."
Currently in beta in the U.S., the technology tracks audience size and demographics on traditional desktop browsers as well as mobile devices. And it does so in such a way that accounts for people using multiple devices to access the sites.
Jeff Hackett, executive vice president of ComScore, explains why the company's making the move:
With smartphones and tablets accounting for a rapidly expanding share of digital media consumption, comScore recognized the need to evolve our industry-leading audience measurement product to better represent this new paradigm. By developing proprietary methods to account for multi-platform audience overlap, we have designed a truly unique and innovative solution.
As Hackett noted, the move is the latest indication of the growing importance of tablets and smartphones. More shopping, Web surfing, and other tasks are done on the devices as opposed to traditional PCs. That poses both a risk and an opportunity for Internet companies.
Unsurprisingly, Google wouldn't budge from the top spot by using either ComScore's new measurement strategy or its old.
For Facebook, the new system would make it the third-most-visited site on the Internet in September, with 179,411 visitors that month. By looking only at desktop, Facebook would fall to fourth place.
Yahoo, meanwhile, would become No. 2 with the new ranking, up from third place by looking only at desktop. Microsoft, however, would fall to fourth place from second.
As ComScore noted, companies highly focused on mobile or with a big mobile presence "may realize strong increases in total audience size and rankings."
Along with Facebook moving up one spot (and ranking as the top property in terms of total engagement on mobile), here are a few more interesting findings from the new measurement system:
ComScore noted the new system will remain in beta over the next several months as the product undergoes a thorough data review and validation with its clients. It noted that all publicly reported data included in the initial report are illustrative and should not be interpreted as official ComScore rankings.
Anyway, here's the top 20 companies, according to comScore: