The Wall Street Journal‘s (account required) reporters are top-notch journalists. Journalists are paid to ask the right questions. Yet today, while they report that Nielsen is shifting from page view metrics to time-spent metrics, nobody questions the absurdity.
According to the Journal:
“Page views have been a major barometer of a Web site’s popularity and help set advertising rates, but the measure is becoming less relevant. Online publishers and advertisers say page views don’t capture consumer loyalty to a site or reflect the increasing popularity of online video and new technology that automatically refreshes Web sites, thereby depressing page views.”
“Nielsen/NetRatings, in June will release what it calls “time-spent” data and stop issuing its rankings by page views. The New York company’s rival, ComScore Inc. said last month that it is emphasizing a measurement called “visits,” which takes into account the time people return to surf a Web site in a month.”
HA HA HA HA!! I have a bridge near our offices in Brooklyn to sell you, too.
The OBVIOUS QUESTIONS:
- Do you ever open up a browser and get distracted by a phone call, a meeting, your kids, or an instant message? Will the time the “page” is open be counted there as well?
- Have these folks never heard of tabbed browsing? Let’s pause for a moment. How many tabs or browsers do you have open? (More than one, most likely.) When people keep 6 or 7 tabs opened, would all of them count as time-spent from the moment the first tab was opened? That’s a clear indication that someone is engaged, huh?
- Nobody wants to be held accountable. New media gurus are just old media wonks in costume who still think of their audience as recipients. In today’s media climate, they’re participants, and the only time you can tell they’re engaged is when they click. Trying to base a measurement on anything more than the click leaves you playing a dangerous game of smoke-and-mirrors.
Maybe they should spend some time looking at the ways in which people actually engage with the Web instead of awarding themselves creative prizes.