It’s Official: Page Views Don’t Count
The pageview is officially on its way out the door as a web site performance metric – Nielsen is dropping page view measurement in its Web traffic reporting. Instead, they will report the time visitors spend at sites.
“Based on everything that’s going on with the influx of Ajax and streaming, we feel total minutes is the best gauge for site traffic,” said Scott Ross, director of product marketing at Nielsen. “We’re changing our stance on how the data should be” used.
Nielsen will still provide page view figures but won’t formally rank them. Ross said page view remains a valid gauge of a site’s ad inventory, but time spent is better for capturing the level of engagement users have with a site.
The venerable pageview has been done in by increasing adoption of new technologies, principally Ajax and streaming video. Ajax allows users to update page content without actually pulling a new page from the server, while video allows users to view continuously changing content on the same page. In sites with heavy Ajax or video components, users may spend considerable time on the site and even interact with the site while generating no new pageviews; this makes comparing page view statistics with other sites an unreliable indicator of relative time spent or visitor engagement.
Scott Karp at Digital Media Wire points out, “But time spent is an equally problematic metric that assumes that more is better, which isn’t the case with web applications designed for efficiency, like Google search. Ranking top sites by total minutes instead of page views gives Time Warner Inc.’s AOL a boost, largely because time spent on its popular instant-messaging software now gets counted.” Richard MacManus at Read/Write Web thinks that time spent may be a better indicator of user involvment in blogs, particularly those with longer, higher quality articles vs. blogs with a large volume of low-content posts. Darren Reed at Problogger notes that pageviews still have some importance from an advertising standpoint, since ad revenue is often impression-based.