Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yahoo Explains What’s Wrong With The Page-View Metric

Peter Daboll, chief of insights at Yahoo, and former president of comScore Media Metrix, just dished up a very good articulation of why page-view Web metrics are so irrelevant. (Btw, I used to work with Peter when I was a marketing and analytics guy at comScore Media Metrix.) He says:

Page view counting has been a key measure for a decade but just because it was once the obvious solution, doesn’t mean it’s the best one now. A couple of reasons why:

  • PVs aren’t a good reflection of web activity in 2006 and beyond. It’s a broadband world and page views are irrelevant to some of the most frequently used Internet services like instant messenger, VoIP, or video, in addition to technologies such as Flash and Ajax. More page views might actually reward sites for poor site design in light of these new technologies.
  • PVs have never been consistently measured by third parties or by sites themselves. Everyone has a different definition of when and how a page is counted.
  • PVs don’t represent ad inventory. In the early days of the Internet, page views were used to represent available ad impressions, but the reality is that page views and ad impressions are actually counted in different ways and don’t correlate. PVs also have little to do with available inventory with the different types of ad units available today using text, audio, video, etc.

The bottom line is that the page view has outgrown its usefulness. The industry needs to embrace change and develop new metrics that measure this new world more accurately. We all need to help to wean the industry off the crutch of familiar metrics in favor of more accurate and representative ones. We all need to be smart about these new metrics — the measurement companies, major publishers, and advertisers.

But the problems with the page view reflect a more inherent problem that ties into the advertising Engagement discussion: what's the value for advertisers across higher- or lower-involvement media experiences, interactions and different contexts? The publisher business wheels and deals in the buying and selling of consumer attention captured by intrusion and disruption. Whatever the new metric becomes of that, you must also pursue the higher calling of determining actual outcome when marketers and publishers hold hands, and juxtapose commercial messaging with content. Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 points out a likely evolution of this conundrum: a fuzzy middle ground between direct response and brand advertising.


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