Is the Page View a Dying Metric?

    July 13, 2007

I’ve read two recent-ish posts on this topic. One was via the IAB from The Washington Post about AOL’s apparent jump to the top of the website pile because page views were no longer the dominant metric being used to track results.

Nielsen Scraps Web Page View Rankings

Back in February, USA Today penned this article on the page view as a dying stat…

New technologies make gauging Web ads’ effectiveness more difficult

Now, as Nielsen was tracking things using time-on-site to determine who’s the most popular site, Google fell, AOL jumped.

Makes perfect sense if time is the evaluator, and not page views. Folks go to Google, do their search and end up, quickly, at a site with the info they were looking for. AOL, on the other hand IS the Internet for millions of users. They know nothing outside the AOL bubble. It’s The Internet for Dummies and many folks like it.

So, does this mean the page view is dead as a metric?

Let’s examine this a bit further.

When websites rules the land, page views was a dominant metric (we’ll forget the word “hits” and that anyone ever thought it was a meaningful item – if you still think it’s a valuable metric, please stop reading this blog and go watch MTV – I’m sure an episode of “Back in ‘99″ will be airing shortly for you…). Page views represented a way to determine the amount of interaction your visitors (unique and returning) were having with your website. They’d find you, leaf through page after page enjoying your content, and you’d spin ad impression after ad impression (grabbing clicks all the while), or you’d make your pitch and funnel them into the sales bucket and rack up the revenues.

Page views rules the roost as one of the key metrics for sure…

…until blogs appeared.

Man, were folks disappointed to see the overall lower number of page views. They shouldn’t have been surprised, though, as most blogs show an average of 10 articles/posts on the main page alone. So, instead of 10 page views, a visitor accounted for one PV and read 10 posts.

I noticed this immediately with my first blog. Then I began to dig into the “time on site” stats further, and you know what? I saw that users were staying longer on my blog than they ever did on any page on the website associated with it. Sure, PVs were down, but user engagement was WAY up…and so was Adsense revenue… ;)

…and THAT is what gets users clicking on ads – exposure. It’s what advertisers are looking for – exposure. It’s what copy writers need to pitch their wares – exposure. It’s what brand marketers kill for – exposure.

Instead of bemoaning the shrinking page view number, those switching from dedicated websites to blogs should embrace the higher engagement rate a blog offers and tailor the ads they show to better fit the audience.

Anyway, the bottom line is this:

Is the page view a dead metric?


…but webmasters are finally getting savvy to engagement and it’s value. Others are also beginning to make this shift as noted by those latest results toting AOL as the top website.

Like so many things on the Internet, this will continue to evolve. No, the page view is hardly dead, but if you’re a blogger, look to other stats to determine success before you judge yourself too harshly.