New Media Performance Metrics

Last Updated Aug 20, 2007 7:18 PM EDT

Conventional Web statsIn the never-ending quest to analyze our way to intelligence, we business people tend to measure a lot of things. (We then call these measurements metrics in order to lend an air of importance.) And while the Internet media and advertising industries have ample data, they have it notably tough when it comes to finding the right way to measure performance. We're all familiar with conventional Web analytics, but Web 2.0 technologies have made it harder to get a good read. (For more on Web 2.0, see the BNET Feature Package: Putting Web 2.0 to Work.) An interesting BrandWeek article by Kenneth Hein highlights the problem and the new solutions:
From "hits" to "page views" to "uniques," people have been trying to quantify online media since its inception, but as the Web has matured, metrics have lagged.
Until now. Later this month, Nielsen/NetRatings plans to roll out a new "total" suite of metrics which includes total minutes, total sessions and total page views for online media. Meanwhile, chief rival comScore earlier this year launched its "visits" family of metrics (total visits, average minutes of visits, average visits per visitor and average visits per usage day). Both could, in theory, provide a more accurate way to buy online advertising, though the lack of a standard measurement could create more confusion in the market.
Why the need for new metrics? Blame Ajax (asynchronous JavaScript and XML). That new programming technique lets users refresh content without clicking onto another page, thus rendering the page view irrelevant. Flash technology, digital video and instant messaging also present problems. Page views, which had been the predominant metric, only measure static pages.
It's interesting that time is now a big part of the performance measures. And while Nielsen's "total" suite and comScore's "visits" family of metrics aren't likely to offer a permanent solution, they represent a good couple steps forward.

(Image of Conventional Web Stats by dannysullivan, CC 2.0)