The page view is (nearly) dead. That’s the drum that Steve Rubel has been beating for some time. And he’s right, but for the wrong reason. His argument is that new technologies like AJAX and less new ones that are used more frequently today, like Flash, prevent most web analytics programs from accurately accounting for all “page views.” This week Steve examined alternatives to keep the discussion going.
I have opined on this in the past as it relates to objective metrics for comparing web site audiences. But to address Steve’s current concern, I would first argue that his objections relate more to advertisers than to those seeking to measure reach and influence. And advertisers will rely on a derivative of page views: impressions. If ads are being displayed inside of AJAX or Flash applications, certainly the ad-serving software will track the number of times the ads appear.
But in today’s world, far more advertisers focus on Cost Per Click (CPC) and in fact deploy Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. Even if you aren’t familiar with the term, you probably know it as Google AdWords and the like. And ultimately all advertisers would be wise to measure overall success on a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) basis.
All that said, Steve thinks that a new metric, events, and “time spent” on a web site will be keys to the future. Frankly, I believe the third one he mentioned in his post, unique visitors, continues to hold the strongest sway, despite any flaws it may have. Larger advertisers seem comfortable with such a measure because it is what they are used to with traditional media where you count readers or viewers. As important, it is a measure that is relatively easily tracked by third parties without getting in to a huge semantic game about how events are measured or whether “time spent” should include the fact that I kept my browser open while I went to get a cup of coffee and resumed using it when I got back to my desk.
When one gets outside the realm of advertising metrics, however, the debate becomes much more interesting. For measurement and analysis firms, like my own CustomScoop, trying to assess the relative significance of a mention on one blog or other online media property versus another can be a challenge. Just this week Biz360 announced its new metric that includes a little of this and a little of that. Which is how most do it. Like the traditional PR measurement game, however, it seems unlikely that any one standard will ever emerge. It will simply be a case of each vendor offering its own formula and standing behind it.
But more on that subject later…