Metrics: Page Views Out, Time On Site In

Nielsen/NetRatings is dropping page views as a key site ranking metric, and the AP report:

Now, news that Nielsen/NetRatings is planning a major shift in web metrics, moving, according to the AP, from page views as the key metric to time spent on a site.

This new approach will likely shake up current rankings, for instance:

…under the current system, AOL ranked sixth in total page views for May but first in total minutes: 25 billion. Using total time, Google drops to fifth from third in page views. (The reason given is Google’s mission to send people off quickly for answers; that’s probably true but ignores Google’s other mission now, which is to keep people engaged on its own sites.)

In our Online Community Metrics 2007 study (to be released in August), we found that page views were far and away the most collected and reported metric. If general confidence in this metric starts to erode, what will take its place? Is “Time spent on site” the most meaningful metrics for communities?

The other big issue is with online advertising. Most sites are using page views to correlate “impressions”, similar to traditional marketing campaigns. If page views become meaningless, who do marketers communicate value back to clients?

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