The Daily Telegraph of London is one of Britain's most respected dailies, but when its telegraph.co.uk Web site suddenly gained 6.3 million unique visitors in two months and overtook The Guardian Unlimited in popularity, even its most ardent believers had to wonder.
Media need accurate audience measurement online to attract and capture fledgling digital advertising. The challenge is acute for conventional media looking for a healthy bridge to the digital sphere.
At the moment there are varying sources of measurement, some of them real-time and some of them poll-related that deliver delayed information. The two systems offer variances in audience totals, but each has certain attributes that help media explain their reach.
In Britain, though, the spurt has set off alarm bells and prompted the joint industry committee for Internet standards to review the matter.
Out of this should come a clearer and consistent form of measurement to make sure everyone is comparing apples to apples.