Home Compete Takes On Alexa – Launches SnapShot and Social Search

Compete Takes On Alexa – Launches SnapShot and Social Search

US analytics
firm Compete, a company formed in 2000 by Bill
Gross of Overture fame, has quietly released a new search engine and at the same time
opened up some of its analytics data to the public. What’s more, there is an e-commerce
component that displays special shopping deals next to search results. I spoke to Compete
CEO Don McLagan and other members of his team today to find out more…

Formally Compete was a Web statistics firm that provided analytics services to private customers – similar to Hitwise and Nielsens. So this move to offer search and
associated analytics tools is designed to increase their collaboration and community on
the open Web.

SnapShot – web analytics

The main analytics product being offered is called Snapshot, which does Alexa-style
comparisons between websites – as well as additional metrics such as ‘trust’. Indeed the
new Compete is similar in nature to Alexa, in that it collects data about website traffic
and makes it available to the public. However Compete (unsurprisingly) says that its data
is superior to Alexa’s, because it uses more than just a toolbar to collect it. Compete
gets its data in the following ways:

  • The Compete toolbar – works very similar to Alexa toolbar, in that “community
    members” download the toolbar and opt in to share information on the web pages they visit, as well as other marketing data.
  • ISPs
  • Opt-In Panels
  • Application Providers

Compete currently has more than two million members – and this is growing as new
users download their toolbar and Compete expands its data collection, via ISP
relationships and the other methods mentioned above.

As with Alexa, there is ranking, pages/visit, avg stay and comparisons (up to 3
domains in total). There’s also a People metric – an estimate of unique visitors
to a site.

Compete is really challenging Alexa (owned by Alazon) front-on here. The following
table, which I found in the FAQs, makes this clear:

Source: Compete.com FAQ

Issues with SnapShot

However in my tests, I identified a couple of downsides to Compete’s data – which
makes me think that Alexa isn’t vanquished just yet. The first is that Compete data
is US only. Even the data of international toolbar users is not included. So, as with
comScore, this immediately makes Compete’s data less comprehensive than it could be. [update: comScore advised me that “comScore has offered international data for quite some time.”] Compete told me that this will change over time, but for now they only offer US data.

The second issue is that Compete doesn’t provide very accurate data on blogs or small
websites. I tested Read/WriteWeb, Techcrunch and some other blogs – and the data was
significantly under-reported and trends weren’t accurate. So for this reason, Alexa
maintains its edge for now as a stats service for blogs and small startups. The Compete
data for large websites, like MySpace and Yahoo, is much more compelling though. Compete
told me in our briefing that they do intend to cater to ‘the long tail’, so I’m hoping
that data for small websites improves soon.


At first glance when you go to compete.com, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just
another search engine. But search results come with some nifty features. For example
search for “computers” and the following page comes up:

At the top are ‘sponsored links’ (ads). These are followed by ‘Compete Picks’, which
are search results that are determined by the 2 million + community of Compete users. In
the FAQ it states that “Compete Picks ‘promote’
specific search results based on the input of the Compete community.” Compete Picks only
appear for popular search terms currently, but it’s hoped that as Compete’s memberbase
grows it will be able to feature Compete Picks for more obscure search terms.

There are also icons for trustworthiness of websites and a Snapshot stats icon. But
of most interest is the little blue dollar icon which displays on some results. This
means there are special deals and promotional codes associated with the domain. Click
through to the Snapshot page for the domain and you’ll see something like this:

This is potentially a great feature, because it ties in specific shopping deals
with search.

Below the Compete Picks are normal search results, provided by Yahoo.


Another feature is MyCompete, “a personalized homepage for Compete community members”
(includes retail incentives). Add that to the search, analytics, shopping deals – and
this is quite a package being released by Compete. I’d personally like to see the data
expanded beyond US and improved in regards to blogs and small websites – but overall
Compete’s feature set is impressive. Also the shopping component seems to me to be a
potentially very compelling part of their search site.

Compete.com will officially launch on November 1, but the site is currently available
for testing.

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