RIP the page view: not so sadly missed

Those who have worked in evaluating the success of online marketing campaigns will not be surprised to hear of the death of the page view – after a long illness.

After its final death throes, the page view’s demise was confirmed by Nielsen/NetRatings in an announcement in July 2007, where it said that it was no longer using the page impression as the primary metric for comparing websites. Culprits in the shuffling off of the PV’s mortal coil include:

  • The increasing use of AJAX which can refresh content without a page reload
  • The increasing use of video.

Nielsen believes that these trends will continue with technology supporting more in-page viewing. This has led to them to use time on site as the comparison metric since it at least demonstrates the value to the customer of on-site content.

The reality is that this reflects a deeper shift in the world of online measurement, as analysts try to get to grips with the impact of Web 2.0 technology such as blogging, user generated content, social networks and widgets. Page views clearly do not give insight into the level of audience engagement and although time on site is a step in the right direction, we don’t believe you can rely on it as a single site metric.

What you want to know is whether your content engaged with the audience or not. No one single metric will ever satisfy that question. Comparison decisions will be hard particularly for advertisers. New metrics must be considered such as the number of ratings, number of comments, which parts of videos people watched/shared. And to give you a fuller picture of your audience motives qualitative collection through surveys is also required to support the decision making process.

Whichever way Web Analytics 2.0 goes certain rules will still apply

  • It’s about intelligence not data
  • The 10/90 rule still applies
  • Good marketing is about using the insight tools provide us to drive decisions and actions that effect business bottom lines
  • And finally: You live or die by the quality of your content. No matter what business you are in you are in the content business.