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Page Views Are Dead, Engagement Named As Heir

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An in-depth look at the debate over web analytics over at Computerworld has concluded that page views are dead (although we track them assiduously at GigaOM), and like heirs squabbling over an inheritance, startups are fighting to define the page view’s successor: engagement.

The story mentions Israeli startup Nuconomy, which measures engagement by tracking things such as widget downloads and comments. Nielsen, which abandoned page views to focus on time spent on a site, thinks that’s a better measure of engagement, especially when it comes to online video. But a one-size-fits-all approach may not win out. The article quotes Avinash Kaushik, a web analytics consultant whose clients include Google, who says:

“A lot of people think the page view is dying so we should measure engagement,” he noted. “Just because the page view died, who…gave you the right to move to engagement? The web is becoming more fluid in terms of how people interact with it. The fluidity does not mean the core questions you wanted to answer go away.”

This isn’t just a semantic debate, it’s a struggle to define how advertisers will dole out the dollars for the myriad of online publishing sites and content networks out there. With online advertising reaching $21 billion last year, that’s an estate worth fighting for.

7 Responses to “Page Views Are Dead, Engagement Named As Heir”

  1. amolpatil2k

    It is an old story, which keeps repeating itself. There is a lot of discussion on what is the most rational way of doing things. But ultimately what happens looks more like the most profitable or manipulable way of doing things. We can talk about page views and engagement all we want to but it is gonna get us nowhere.

    The big worry is Commoditization. Because everything on the Net is available to everyone on the Net, everything is in danger of becoming a commodity. P2P has shown that even intellectual property laws cannot slow down this trend.

    Now if everything is going to become a commodity then value would have to come only from customization. This would mean that Pull would no longer generate value. Only customized Push would be able to generate value. Also because closure cannot be achieved in something as wide as the Net, no one (or at least the wider audience) would be willing to put money down for customized Push. This is where ad money would come in.

    Customized Push sponsored by ads might just prove to be The Future of the Net.

  2. The whole thing is silly anyway. Pronouncements referring to something as THE metric or THE concept are just attempts to create a titillating sound byte or quick quote to be picked up by bloggers, which is basically what has happened successfully in this case.

    I like what the commenters are saying here – every situation is different, users operate at different levels, it’s not worth discussing. And there’s no news in the first place – experienced smart people have been thinking in terms of “engagement” since forever.

  3. Beau Vrolyk

    With “Page Views” becoming suspect – weren’t they always – and the folks who are spending $21b in on-line advertising finding themselves in a technology swamp from which they don’t know the exit, leadership is required.

    The question is: “Where will advertisers find the intellectual leadership they crave in the on-line world?”

    The on-line world must prove something is reasonable and that it works. An act that has nothing to do with Web 1.0, Web 2.0 or any other technobabble buzzword. It has to do with verifiable measurement of customer buying patterns, not “coolness”.

  4. Agree 110% with Darren’s comment. You can’t even get clients to look one level deeper from pageviews into “which pages” so they can determine which content is worth investing in (and which isn’t), which content is helping to drive suspects to prospects to customer, etc. etc.

    On to the next buzzword. ;)

  5. If pageviews are dead and we’re looking at the ‘engagement’ metrics, which by the way, has no universal definition, how do we plan on educating every single marketer about this, when many marketers are still stuck in Web 1.0?