ASA rules against citing 'hits' in ads
Not a measure of true popularity
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.
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Most ASA rulings are based on lies like this. The problem is not to do with public education, its saying to advertisers "you know full well that you are using a word the public don't understand. Stop it". They genraly accept that most of the public do not think there car will turn in to a skating robot.
The term “hits” means a different number of people viewing a different number of pages on each site.
As a metric for anything except a server administrator to manage web server processes, it's utterly useless. People commonly misinterpret “hits” to mean “visits”, though, and so it's either a meaningless statistic or a misleading one.
The ASA's ruling was spot on, for once.
"- wtf? so im not counted as a tesco customer as ive been there before?"
a rough comparison but If tesco were saying they got 3000 customers in April, you would assume 3000 unique people, not the same 100 people going in every single day of the month. It all depends on the definition of a customer.
How about if you go on to define a customer as someone who buys an item from you (not an unreasonable definition). I go in for my weekly shop and am counted as 200 customers as i bought 200 items.
Usually there's some sort of micro print at the bottom of the screen to define this whenever wild claims are made by marketing. They must have overlooked adding the small print saying that the number of hits bears no relation to the actual number of visitors to the site.