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Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion has an interesting article where he speculates what will replace the page view metric, which he believes will be dead by 2010.
Page view or page impression figures are easy to manipulate and don’t give a true measure of a site’s popularity. For instance, merely splitting content over several pages can falsely inflate a site’s figures.
In recognition of the drawbacks of the page view metric, the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) recently decided that unique users would replace the page impression as ABC Electronic's mandatory measurement metric.
The candidates to replace the page impression are:
1. Events - Steve argues that, with many interactive sites around which use Flash and Ajax, page views are useless as they only count complete refreshes of a page.
With the increased use of tools such as Google Analytics, Steve suggests that Google could share this 'events' data and use it to compile a rankings list.
There are difficulties with this metric though, such as deciding which 'events' count, and there could be the same problem with splitting content over pages.
2. Unique visitors - This metric measures individual visitors to a site and, at the moment, is the most reliable measurement of a site's popularity.
However, this metric is not without its faults - as well as problem of users deleting cookies, it fails to account for users who may access the same site using a number of different computers or mobiles devices. This makes the metric inaccurate, though at least all sites are measured equally.
3. Time spent - Steve also suggests time spent on a website as a valuable measurement of how a website grabs it users' attention. With the popularity of online video sites, this would be a useful metric.
Steve points out that such a metric would fail to measure time spent browsing through RSS feeds, but another problem with this measurement is the inaccuracy when users take a break while leaving the website on.
Steve believes that a combination of the events and time spent metrics may be the best bet, though for many unique visitors remains the most reliable - if flawed - metric.
Can you think of any others?