Analytics in a Platform World

There was a lot of buzz in the tech world yesterday about comScore’s announcement of a widget tracking service called “Widget Metrix”. Basically, comScore is now able to tell advertisers and publishers how much distribution widgets are getting in terms of unique viewers.

This is valuable data. But basic widget analytics don’t offer adequate insight to understand what’s happening inside Facebook right now. Because it is such a new paradigm of application use, the Facebook Platform offers new challenges for measuring engagement for advertisers, publishers, and investors.

Some new questions raised by Facebook Platform applications are:

  • How valuable is a Facebook widget view (in Facebook, profiles/widgets can only usually be viewed by friends and network members) vs. a blog or MySpace widget view (where profiles/widgets can usually be viewed by anyone)?
  • How valuable is Facebook canvas real estate vs. Facebook profile real estate? vs MySpace profile real estate? vs real estate on your own website?
  • How much attention are users giving to applications vs. Facebook? What is the value of a Facebook member who has “added” your application vs. the value of a registered user on your own website?

I believe that ultimately these answers will vary greatly by application. Applications that are highly engaging for users and that offer significant new value to friends should be valued differently than applications with similar reach but significantly weaker engagement patterns. I suspect it will be a while before analytics services will be able to offer this level of insight within the Facebook Platform.