Measurement Menaces of the Month: Publishers That Exaggerate Their Data

It’s hard enough to measure communications without having to deal with the increasingly whack-a-doodle numbers coming out of some of the leading platforms:

  • Take Facebook, for instance, which claimed it could reach more more users in the U.S. and Australia than actually live there. Never mind those thousands of ads that looked real but were in fact placed by bogus Russian accounts intended to distort reality.
  • Then there’s the vast majority of media evaluation companies, who calculate views based on the root domain URL of a site rather than on the actual sub-domain page on which a story appeared. Unless you have a very expensive subscription to comScore, which few do, the data that comes in is for the root domain. You can see it in the data: a story that runs on an inside food section of The New York Times gets credited with the same number of views as a front page story.
  • And, in case you’re judging your performance by Yelp or other on-line reviews, are you sure you want to tie your next bonus to the opinions of a robot?
  • And the worst of all are the now thousands of fake research publications, predatory publishers that scam scientists into submitting research that never gets peer reviewed or published where other researchers can view or use it.

All of these data-distorting Measurement Menaces are contributing to growing skepticism of everything written, said, and broadcasted. They destroy trust in research, science, and the media, and they make everything harder to measure. For that reason, we name all publishers that create fake data our Measurement Menaces of the Month, and the future.

This article is part of our special Future of Measurement issue.

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