Myspace users are older than you think says a new comscore report. Yet Yahoo and Berkeley’s Danah Boyd, almost certainly the sharpest and most knowledgeable researcher in this space, is challenging Comscore’s finding.
It’s good to question methodology, but I think Comscore is “correct” here though Dana’s right that we need more slicing and dicing of data to assess the significance of this finding.
1) I’m pretty sure the methodology is very strong in terms of demographic specifics. I think they have a pool of people they interview or measure regularly and then mine this data from this controlled and “known”, but very large online population.
2) Users *are* visitors! They are using the term “users” in the normal metrics sense of “unique visitors to the site”. Dana is making a distinction between users and visitors as active vs passive participants.
We’d want to see more info about time spent at the site to generalize more about this but I don’t think this time issue would refute the “user demographic” they are talking about.
Of course, if young users spend 10x the time at the site as older ones it would make the Comscore finding less important. They don’t seem to suggest this is the case however, so until further notice I’m going to keep thinking “wow, Myspace is getting to be an olderspace!”
Update: Fred’s take on this seems to be that method is OK but this needs more elaboration in the press which he thinks is “conflating” the terms user and visitor. He agrees with Danah that “user” and “unique visitor” are not the same. I’ve never seen anybody make that distinction but perhaps we need a new term?
Seems to me that they have been working with *subscriber data* and thus are surprised by this user data. Subscribers are probably are younger than visitors and spend a lot more time at the site. Relevant, but does not dismiss the Comscore findings.
Update: Mike Rubin at Comscore comments here. Appears my analysis was correct – Comscore’s data is solid but reflects visitors and not registered users, and young people stay on longer.