Feeds

ASA rules against citing 'hits' in ads

Not a measure of true popularity

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

An advert that claimed a website received over five million 'hits' every month has been banned because the metric is likely to mislead readers. The UK's advertising watchdog said that 'hits' is an unreliable measure of website popularity.

The national press advert for London-based diamond dealer CoolDiamonds.com stated: "With over 5 million hits each month this website has revolutionised the way we buy diamonds."

A rival diamond broker, H. Goldie & Company, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the claim "over 5 million hits each month" misleadingly implied that more than five million people visited the website each month.

CoolDiamonds.com said that 'hits' were relevant to its business because they reflected the interest generated by their website.

A hit is a request to a web server for a file to be loaded in a visitor's browser. A typical web page comprises several files. If a page displays some text and five images, a single visit to that page would generate at least six hits. Some pages will generate many more hits than that – so a hit is not equivalent to the number of pages viewed by a user or the number of visitors.

The ASA noted that 'hits' has been discredited previously as a measure of site popularity.

"We understood that 'hits' was not recognised as a measurement of website traffic by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK (JICWEBS); it only recognised measurements of unique users, page impressions or visits," wrote the ASA.

It also quoted the Institute of Direct Marketing website, which said that, from a marketing point of view, "the bottom line is that the hits are misleading – they are never synonymous with the number of site visitors or page-views."

"We considered that readers were likely to understand that the claim '5 million hits' was a reference to the websites popularity and that hits was a reliable measure of that popularity," said the ASA. "We considered that some readers might go so far as to infer that each month Cool Diamonds had five million visitors or that five million web pages had been viewed by visitors."

"Because the number of hits a website received was unlikely to reflect, or be a reliable measure of, the number of visitors to the site or pages viewed, we concluded that the claim was likely to mislead readers into thinking the website was more popular than it was," it ruled.

The advert was found to be in breach of the requirement for truthfulness and CoolDiamonds.com was ordered not to repeat the ad in its current form.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.