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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?

Further Reading:
Eric T. Peterson on the difficulties of Web 2.0 measurement
Measuring Web 2.0 – The death of the page impression

blog@e-consultancy.com

Graham Charlton

Published 15 February, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Laurent Nicolas, Alenty

Events are far too "conceptual" : no one will ever agree about what an event is. In AJAX interfaces "MouseOver" is an event that can trigger an partial page refresh. Can you imagine counting all MouseOver events?
Unique visitors are the holy graal of measurement. But they will remain unaccessible. Advertisors will continue using unique visitors metrics. But they will use them in the internal management meetings, because their bosses have never heard of GRP. But they will continue to buy something that is "summable", measured by a metrics added from several sources.
My vote for time spent (in french): http://www.alenty.com/xwiki/bin/view/Blog/LeGRPDeLInternet
About a duration-based GRP...

If you want a translation in english, just ask me, I'll do my best.

over 9 years ago

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Andrew Hood, Managing Director at Lynchpin Analytics Ltd

Page Impressions have never really been a particularly valid measure of anything other than the number of pages a web server dishes out, and their gradual fall from favour is a positive move towards a better overall understanding of website success.

In some ways, as a metric, they will more likely be superseded by higher level measures such as unique users and bottom-line events (i.e. sales and other conversions) than explicitly replaced.

What page impressions do represent are engagement with content, and perhaps a good replacement would be something that takes into account unique user engagement across high-level groups of unique content (regardless of whether those groups are comprised of static HTML pages or AJAX transitions).

Whether you call that engagement an event or not is probably still up for debate, and I doubt there will be an industry standard metric (define "unique content"). But how users navigate a site isn't a "how many?" question anyway outside of a specific site context.

over 9 years ago

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Customer Experience

I suggest that unique vistors fails to capture the concept of 'value'. Value - to the customer- is the idea of deliverying on their objectives. Time on the site, doesn't necessarily equate to value. For example, if the site is hard to navigate, someone may spend more time, and thereby decreasing the cost-benefit of the site. This will be the holy grail of measurement, determining a consistent way to measure customer value.

over 9 years ago

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James Robertson, Web Marketing Manager at www.venuebirmingham.com

I would have to go with good ol return on investment and conversion rate; however these are internal figures for measuring your own site's success by.

For external, objective measures the "least worst" is unique visitors; it is equally harsh to everyone. The number of users deleting cookies is not that large - most people simply have no idea how to do this; and it will never get over the issue of looking at a site from work as well as from home.

But what else measures success by such a good yardstick? The number of individual people who come to a site, regardless of how many times they visit is ideal.

We need some standard definitions though; over what time is a visitor unique? - if they come back in a day, a week, a month or a year do they still count as the same person?

over 9 years ago

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Qais Sami

I agree with Steve, because the impressions era are going to fade out by time because of new technologies offering interactive content without leaving the 1st page you are in, for example: the new revamp for Time.com it's made all of Ajax and you can access & view 80% of content without shifting to another page or go through long tail to reach your content. Last two years, most of big players are moving to adopt interactive content technologies like Ajax & Flash.
Time spent factor it's a good example to show how your site content is interesting & engaging, the average time for user at Apple.com is 1 hour and 19 min; definitely this has a good indication how much the content is sticky & interesting.
The new site measurements it should be supported by most of international associations & organizations to make the new industry standards which help to realize the real value for a certain site.

over 9 years ago

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