Metrics that Matter & the Death of the Page View

January 10th, 2012 by Lauryn

Page views are a pain in the ass. It's the metric that lies behind so many of the bad design decisions on the web. Time on page is too. The way it's been measured has often been more akin to a finger in the air than the solid metrics we expect. Neither really take into consideration how users are actually viewing information - from social to mobile - or at least not well.

As Lewis DVorkin states in his latest Forbes piece, "the page view engagement metric of the last decade served its purpose." He's right. It did. But now, RIP Page Views. It's time for us to move on and start using metrics that truly matter to your site's performance - those are the metrics that tell the full story of your content.

That full story is not told in a page view. Sure, it might tell you that you're awesome at driving traffic to your site, but beyond that...? What kind of traffic? The right kind, the kind what will come back, the kind that will genuinely engage, share, and chat about you?

We, the Chartbeat crew, are pretty certain the future lies in engagement. Engagement - or specifically a new metric we're rolling out called engaged minutes - is all about how and how long someone is actually, actively engaged with your content. It's about knowing precisely what that user is engaging with and how. For instance, is this page linkbait, driving clicks but no engagement? Or is this piece of content a slow burner that's hidden behind a bad headline, so readers have a tough time finding it, but when they do, they love and engage with it? If so, it might be time to change how you position and promote those stories as a result.

And that's the point, right? To take action and make decisions. That's why you're using real-time data, to adapt and react to who is engaging with your content and how, whether those actions are immediate or longer-term. And you can't take meaningful action on page views.

So, please pack up your things, page views. Engaged minutes is on its way to usurp your throne.

  • http://twitter.com/ITProPortal ITProPortal (@ITProPortal)

    Lauryn, the reason why Page views, as a metrics, is still by far the most popular one is because it is easily understood and is directly related to the number of ad impressions, those two go hand in hand.

    • Lauryn

      Thanks for the comment, ITPro. And, yes, you’re right that views and ad impressions have been best buds for a long time. Not questioning why they both remain as metrics, more suggesting that they shouldn’t be seen as important as they are and we have the opportunity to get smarter, richer information out of them with new, more sophisticated metrics.

      Both views and impressions have been used as a mark for cost/spend because there hasn’t really been much else to point to beyond “did this ad/piece of content load on someone’s browser? yes? great. check that box. pay that $$.” But, as you know, the main problem there is who’s to say someone actually saw that ad or that browser tab was even active or they never scrolled down to see it and if they did see it for how long was it viewable on their page? The same, and potentially much more, goes for content. There are lots of questions that page views and impressions don’t answer that we know engagement metrics can.

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