The Dying Page-View Metric

The Dirty Little Secret No One in the Advertising Business Wants to Talk About

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As we all are quite aware, underneath the internet advertising economy is a key metric that dictates how properties are valued and how online media is bought and sold: the page view. While it's not the only way to measure the health of a site (time spent and unique users are among the others), it's still very popular. Unfortunately, the trusty page view is on life support, and I give it four years to live.
The page view has served us well, but it's time to put the metric to rest.
The page view has served us well, but it's time to put the metric to rest.

This may sound like heresy to most of you. After all, the page view has served us well. It has established a universal way to measure websites. However, the metric is about to become a moot point.

The page view does not offer a suitable way to measure the next generation of websites. 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 you can do within Gmail or the Google Reader. This eliminates the need to click from one page to another. The movement to chunk the web down into widgets will only accelerate this.

This is a dirty little secret in the advertising business that no one wants to talk about. Media companies love to promote how many page views their properties get. They've used the data to build equity. They will fight tooth and nail to protect it, perhaps by not embracing interactive technologies as quickly as they should. But that's not going to stop the revolution from coming.

The big portals are all pushing platforms that are highly interactive and reduce the need to turn pages. Over time, millions of users will grow to love these services. They will like how they can accomplish so much so quickly without ever having to go anywhere else. Smart companies such as ESPN and The New York Times get it and are wisely establishing their own interactive platforms. But they're in the minority.

As the page-view platform crumbles, there's going to be a shakeout. Everyone is going to scramble to find a metric that helps them compete for ad dollars. Enjoy the show.

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Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.
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