Death Of The Pageview And Other Crazy Prophecies
I love reading MicroPersuasion, but I think Steve Rubel has flipped his lid by declaring the death of the pageview!
I am going to make an argument that whatever succeeds the page view (RIP) needs to go beyond counting traffic. In a Long Tail world we shouldn’t care about big amalgamated numbers. Marketers are going to need to reach atomized targets who will hopefully go and spread the message to others. This could be a universe of five our six people in some cases. We want to impact the right “cells” so that they go out and multiply.
The problem, which Rubel acknowledges, is that there is no alternative measurement of success of a website. You can encourage debate all you like, but a site which receives millions of pageviews per month is obviously a popular spot and likely to attract advertisers who want to get a message to those eyeballs!
For thought-leaders like Rubel to convince the industry of the need for change, we need to see models for an alternative way of measuring a site’s popularity, reach or influence. Since Steve first raised the issue a month or so ago, there hasn’t been much practical debate around alternatives to pageview metrics. This needs to change.
If an industry-wide alternative is agreed upon (not an easy task!), then we still need to wait for tools to capture and analyse the new metrics. Publishers and advertisers alike would need to be prepared for the new regime.
Peter Daboll of Yahoo makes a good point that poorly designed sites will count more pageviews than those using more advanced techniques like AJAX, which potentially reduce the number of pageviews. An astute commenter on that blog points to MySpace as the definitive ‘poorly designed site’ which forces page refreshes for virtually everything.
From my point of view, the pageview remains a valid metric. I’m not too bothered about the accuracy of the stats I receive – different analytics programs vary to some degree on how many visitors/hits you’ve had.
From an advertisers point of view, a different mechanism for identifying quality publishers would be useful. Perhaps something like Technorati’s algorithim for sites with authority would be a start – the more backlinks/discussions a site has, the more influential it may be. As a result, marketers may want to tap into that audience and expose their products and services to a highly relevant audience.
Whatever the outcome, there seems to be a desire (mostly from the marketing community) to find a better means of evaluating website popularity. Perhaps for the budding entrepreneur, there’s a goldmine waiting to be tapped in identifying the golden metric they’re looking for and building the tools to mine that data!