Scoble talks web stats:
The thing is these services rely on toolbars (I can’t even use any of the toolbars on the Macintosh for some reason, and how many of you even have one of these folks’ toolbars loaded? None of my friends do and I’ve been checking). Or they rely on “panels” of Web users that they survey regularly. Do you know the selection mechanisms? How do they know they are getting a representative sample? Clearly very few people who run Web companies find their stats accurate. Yet we’re supposed to believe in them?
Looks like everything old is new again - we still have this problem with TV shows. The thing that isn't getting across yet is the difference between the mass audience that advertisers would like (this is the business model they know), and the niche audience they actually get.
The mass audience was an artifact of the lack of choice in early media. When all you had was 3-5 TV stations and a radio dial, you picked one of the available poisons. Now? Your choices are virtually unlimited: 500+ TV channels, internet radio and TV, time slicing (TiVO, podcasts) - it's no longer a finite entertainment menu. The people doing the stats act like it's a finite menu though, and the advertisers behind them play along with the fiction so as to preserve their current behavior.
Sometime soon, reality is going to crash the party.