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The death of the page view July 14, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital.


Guess who died last week. The venerable page view. Last Tuesday, Nielsen/NetRatings, the world’s leading Internet stats measurement behemoth “scrapped rankings” based on the industry yardstick of page views and replaced it with how long visitors stay at websites. This move comes as online video and new technologies such as Ajax increasingly make page views less meaningful.

However, the new metric adopted by Nielsen/NetRatings to rank top websites is equally problematic. Time spent on each website is not an effective yardstick to measure online popularity. Take the example of Google Search vs. YouTube. The reason d’etre of the former is to serve users with the best search results at the MINIMUM possible time while the latter wants users to stick around for ever checking out user-generated content. Which is a qualitatively effective & popular online property?

Even measuring unique visitors is not considered an effective metric to measure online popularity because smart-ass users are doing all sorts of things (clearing cookies, using different computers) to defeat the technology.

The new ranking has hit a body blow to websites such as Google & Yahoo who rely on Web 2.0 technologies. AOL benefits immensely on account of its IM software. Viral media benefits, while search websites will feel the pinch.

However, web stats providers are missing out on the most impactful website statistic ever: Action. With the impending oblivion of the page view metric, digital brands and web solutions providers need to think of creating online properties and define their success in terms of smarter measurable actions (clicks, conversion or customer leads).

This news has interesting implications for my blog & my career. I’m gonna stop bothering about page loads on this blog & focus more on blogging relationships & the content that has made it possible.
And at work, I’ll do more to help clients see that there’s more to online effectiveness than page views & hits. That quality matters more than quantity.

As for now, it looks like web properties with the most engaging user experience are going to rule the roost with the Nielsen move!


1. Steve Roesler - July 16, 2007

Hi, Arun,

Just got my Age of Conversation post up and decided to visit some “Age” colleagues that I hope will become new friends!

I was fascinated by your thoughtful rundown on success measurements. Here’s why:

I’ve been blogging since last September and very regularly check the stats (unique visitors, returning visitors, time spent, page views–everything!).

It started to make me crazy. So I stopped looking for two weeks and just focused on blogging and content. For curiosity, I checked Feedburner stats and discovered that subscriptions had bumped up about 15% during that time. And, that I was getting more readers spending more time. Which then led to analyzing commonalities about the content that seemed to be most appealing.

My action? Write content that gets good conversations going, and then look at how to attach that to business development, where appropriate and possible.

I’m becoming a believer that fanatical measurement doesn’t do a lot for one’s abiity to write and relate in the way that will lead to more readership.

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