What Will Succeed Page Views?

Handicapping the Shortlist of Contenders

By Published on .

If you read this column regularly, you know I believe the page view is on life support. It fails to capture the myriad ways consumers engage in online activities without ever leaving a web page. To get a feel for this, spend some time playing at yourminis.com. So what will replace the page view and when will that happen? Let's handicap the field.
Steve Rubel
Steve Rubel Credit: JC Bourcart

Events: These days most interactive websites are built using Flash and/or Ajax (a cake mix of Javascript, XML and HTML), which allow a page's content to change without refreshing a page, rending page views useless. Yahoo's page views fell late last year as it increasingly turned to these technologies to power popular products such as Yahoo Maps.

Enter "events." Web measurement tools, such as Google Analytics, can track every single interaction an individual makes within a page. Thousands of sites run Google Analytics, so it's conceivable Google can allow users to selectively share data and use it to compile a rankings list. Right now ComScore is unable to measure Ajax and Flash events, although they are working on it, so the smart money says someone will rush in to do a better job.

Unique Visitors: Another popular metric is unique visitors, which measures individual visitors to a particular site. The "uniques" measure certainly does not face the same quandary that plagues the page view. On the surface, it seems reliable. But unique visitors does not account for the same individual using multiple screens. We all use myriad computers and devices.

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 up as people interact with embedded video and widgets on whatever platform they choose. Unfortunately, it 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 explore further. Still, I spend up to 10 minutes a day with my Journal feeds and more than an hour a day overall within my Google RSS reader. That time is not accounted for -- at least by the Journal. There's the dilemma.

Which horse is strongest? I would bet on events to lead the pack.

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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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