Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pageview is Giving Way to New Metrics and it's About Time

MarketingVox, one of my favorite marketing sites has an excellent article about page-view becoming obsolete as a major metric for site success.

This is an issue I've been very passionate about. While page-views are important for determining part of the overall site metrics, I personally feel that in the new era of social media, social networking, social sites that combine different technologies like Ajax and Flash, it's becoming less and less relevant and important. Steve Rubel's article about page-view is a brilliant description of how other aspects and other metrics are becoming more important.

One of the aspects of the Web 2.0 mindset is to have users interact with the website. As more and more people spend more time online, companies are finding ways to encourage user interaction. Sometimes this happens on a single page, other times it's browsing. With the Web 2.0 mindset, page-view is less descriptive of the behavior of the users.

In the past, we looked at page views as a way to see where people are going on a website, we can see them migrate from the homepage, to the category page to the product page and finally to the checkout and purchase page. This linear model is becoming less and less relevant in socially based sites. YouTube and MySpace rely on people to bounce from profile to profile, video to video and interact with the elements on the page. This creates less of a linear pathway and more of a meandering pathway.

Steve Rubel describes tracking "events" as a more important way to look at analytics and user behavior on a site. He makes an excellent point that page-views and even unique visitors don't account for multiple monitors, multiple windows or in Firefox (I would assume) multiple tabs. As I write this post, I have 9 tabs open.

He makes an excellent point that I completely agree with:

Time Spent

With the rise of online video and other rich media, marketers also rely on time spent to measure attention. This is a good metric and it even holds as people interact with embedded video and widgets on whatever platform they choose.

Unfortunately, time spent fails to capture the most engaged users who like to peruse RSS feeds. For example, I subscribe to multiple RSS feeds from the Wall Street Journal but I only click through on those that I want to dig deeper. Still I spend up to 10 minutes a day with my Journal feeds and over an hour a day overall within my Google RSS reader. That time is not accounted for - at least by the Journal, but certainly by Google. There's the dilemma

His conclusion is that the more we track events and time spent, the more accurate the data is going to be to determine user behavior, site value and overall marketing efforts.

Right now, the industry still values some of the more traditional methods of determining and interpreting metrics, but I agree with Steve Rubel. There's an analytic shift that corresponds with the new way of internet marketing and Web 2.0 that current habits dont fully describe.