December 2, 2006

Page Views are Dead. Long Live Page Views.

Posted in Advertising, Software, Web2.0 at 9:59 pm by mj

Steve Rubel says the page view metric will be dead in four years.

The page view does not offer a suitable way to measure the next generation of web sites. These sites will be built with Ajax, Flash and other interactive technologies that allow the user to conduct affairs all within a single web page – like Gmail or the Google Reader. This eliminates the need to click from one page to another. The widgetization of the web will only accelerate this.

It should be obvious to anybody that page views aren’t the best metric to judge the effectiveness of a web site, for either “normal” or advertising purposes.

Still, I think a lot more is being made out of “AJAXification” than is warranted.

Take a typical Webshots photo page. Now click on the next photo.

Are you telling me that if we decided tomorrow to replace that link with some AJAXy goodness, that it suddenly constitutes “user interaction” and not a “page view”?

Some sites already refresh ads on every user click. Pandora refreshes the whole skin. In their case, it really is a sign of user interaction, since the only options you have are play, pause, skip, thumb, etc. There’s no reason it can’t–or won’t–be extended to other web applications.

Really, page views are becoming a special case of ad impression/resource viewing. And ideally, tomorrow’s pageview metric + tomorrow’s clickthru metric == today’s pageview metric. Essentially the same thing, just the user’s eyeballs might be in a different place and ad placements might have to change.

These kinds of “interactive” technologies, by the way, make it easier to judge the context of an ad view. For example, you can easily tell what the previous ad was (or every ad displayed during a given session on a given page), or where on the page the user’s attention is, etc., which can influence the next ad. No need for difficult-to-scale server-side record keeping.

And I reiterate that I am no advertising expert, and I’m sure different metrics are better at judging effectiveness depending on your particular campaign or product.

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