The Idea Dude


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Won't you stay just a little bit longer?

According to MediaPost, Nielsen has changed their strategy from ranking Web sites by page views to time spent. The reason they quote is due to Ajax technologies that do not have to reload the page in order to update the content. The truth is, Ajax does affect widgets and scripts that are only loaded once when the page is loaded. However, if you own the actual website, you don't really lose page views because you are able to track every Ajax request back to your site (there is no free lunch). Most Ajax requests are HTTP requests to the server. The browser receives the response from the server and updates the content without refreshing the page. So if you count both the page load and the Ajax requests this would be comparable to page views before Ajax. So saying Ajax is obscuring page view counts is probably a poor reason for changing the measurement strategy.

A better reason would be because the value of site should be measured by how long someone spends on it. Time is money so the more time someone spends on your site, the more attention you are getting. By measuring time spent, you remove the Digg effect, i.e. you get Digged (Dugg?) a couple hundred times and for a brief space in time (1-2 days) your page views go from a couple hundred to a couple of thousand. The fact that the number usually drops back to normal levels mean that 90 or more percent of the people who came through Digg didn't really find your site or blog compelling enough to return on a regular basis. The same could be said about blogs that have several hundred entries attracting plenty of Google juice. Many get to the blog via the search engine but very few become regular readers. What you are really seeing is a enough people finding you through Google but it is an artificial level because on a daily basis, a large percentage of visitors are random. It is about measuring engagement that is important.

The irony is that most of us wear the page view badge proudly and at the same scoff at the MySpace members who collect so-called 'friends'. There is very little difference after all. At the end of day, it is perhaps our latent need to be heard and recognized, a universal need manifested differently in different contexts.

So how do you know the value of your blog? By counting the number of active conversations you have with your readers because these are your 'repeat customers'. And how do you get them? One at a time...


Blogger haydn said...

HI vern

Very interested to hear those views because I am writing a piece in this area right now.

the other consequence is that ratings will favour social networks more than portals no? Given that some of us will leave a facebook page or linkedin page open most of the day and that tese play to our itnerests not to the portal owners interests or their interpretation of our interests. Is it the demise of the portal?.

11:43 AM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Haydn, you ask a great question, "Is it the demise of the portal?".

We often think the current way we do things is the only way because it is the only way we know how. Perhaps the new paradigm is to regard interactions as opposed to page views as the real metric. Isn't that what conversations are about?

Thanks for stopping by and making me think a little more.

1:06 PM  

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