We had a conversation recently with a prospect who was hoping to boost ad revenue by building page views — at the possible expense of a meaningful user experience. We recommended against it, arguing from the altruistic viewpoint that building a meaningful experience would be far more beneficial in the long run. Plus, we had concerns about the viability of a page view strategy in the face of increasing use of AJAX, whereby results are given to a user without the page reloading at all.
Recently, Nielsen has noted the same thing and has begun adjusting its method of measurement. According to this AP article, Nielsen “will scrap rankings based on the longtime industry yardstick of page views and begin tracking how long visitors spend at the sites.”
Now we’re getting somewhere… Time spent is an interesting and important analytic because it suggests engagement. But, ultimately, I think we’re going to need a tool that can actually measure engagement. After all, if I load up your web site and get distracted (or if I use tabbed browsing and it’s open all day in a tab), I may look heavily engaged when, in fact, I’m not paying any particular attention at all.