I had noticed mentions of analytic information provided by Compete.com often enough that I was curious about what it could do for me.
Compete already had some information about ardamis.com, but it was stunningly wrong. For example, it was telling me that the phrase “godaddy referral program” was responsible for 20.35% of the total traffic sent to my site by search engines. Until recently, I did have a page that mentioned godaddy referral programs, but according to Google Analytics, it was barely ever visited (7 page views in the last 30 days – it was the 78th most popular page on my site, which does get a few thousand visitors a month). Even more strange, it told me that I was getting traffic for the search phrase “myspace”. I have never written anything about myspace before.
It looks like the CompeteXL code has not been correctly placed on the homepage of your site.
This could be because either the code was not copied over correctly, or because it has been placed on the wrong page.
We think your homepage is
I went so far as to email my amazement to their support staff, who promptly and politely wrote me back. (Thumbs up to the guys answering the emails.)
I had made a few other changes to my site at the same time, so I ran a Page Speed check on it. Page Speed told me that I was linking to a resource at trgc.opt.fimserve.com that was throwing a 404 error. I was pretty sure I didn’t intentionally link to anything at that domain, so I Googled it. Surprisingly, there’s not much out there on trgc.opt.fimserve.com other than this and this. As it turns out, fimserve.com is part of something called the FOX Audience Network, and FAN’s parent company is News Corporation, which also owns myspace.com.
Here’s the WHOIS on fimserve.com:
Domain Name: FIMSERVE.COM Registrar: REGISTER.COM, INC. Whois Server: whois.register.com Referral URL: http://www.register.com Name Server: NS1.MYSPACE.COM Name Server: NS2.MYSPACE.COM Status: clientTransferProhibited Updated Date: 17-oct-2006 Creation Date: 17-oct-2006 Expiration Date: 17-oct-2011
And here’s the WHOIS on foxaudiencenetwork.com:
Domain Name: FOXAUDIENCENETWORK.COM Registrar: MARKMONITOR INC. Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com Name Server: NS1.MYSPACE.COM Name Server: NS2.MYSPACE.COM Status: clientDeleteProhibited Status: clientTransferProhibited Status: clientUpdateProhibited Updated Date: 03-may-2010 Creation Date: 03-jun-2008 Expiration Date: 03-jun-2011
I didn’t like the idea that information about my visitors was being shared with anyone but the site I had signed up for, so I started looking through the Compete FAQs and found this:
Currently, the CompeteXL code tracks ONLY self-reported Audience Profile data through a partnership with the FOX Audience Network.
The CompeteXL code DOES NOT track traffic or user engagement metrics, that information continues to be provided through our multi-sourced panel and requires NO addition of code to your site.
What the hell? Why am I installing a tracking code if it’s not used to track traffic?
Oh, and this was a fun discovery, too:
The FOX Audience Network (FAN) is a unit of News Corporation that supports monetization efforts across the company’s online content portfolio, as well as third-party publisher sites.
FAN leverages proprietary advertising technology to create highly-targeted advertising campaigns for a wide range of marketers, while also delivering cutting-edge tools and services to third-party publisher partners. FAN works directly with hundreds of advertisers to develop customized marketing programs that optimize both branded and performance-based strategies.
I use a very popular HOSTS file to block a huge number of servers that are known to host advertisements, tracking scripts (including Google Analytics), parasites, hijackers and unwanted Adware/Spyware programs. The 404 error in Page Speed was caused by the inclusion of trgc.opt.fimserve.com in this custom HOSTS file, which then led me to finding all this out the next day. I’ve removed the tracking code because the information I wanted was on traffic – who’s coming to my site, why, and through what means – and not user demographics.