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July 11, 2007

Measuring the Web by Time Rather Than Pages

Nielsen/Net Ratings is changing the way it measures the popularity of a web site.  Rather than using the traditional number of page views, it will measure the amount of time a user spends at a particular site.  The idea behind this is that as more content is offered on the same web page (think video or IM), a user will spend more time and click less.  By this measure, AOL and Yahoo jump right up there past Google.  Google, after all, offers the most popular search product out there and generate a lot of clicks but hardly anyone stays on a search page very long.  AOL and Yahoo users, on the other hand have long spells with IM clients which keep people at those sites, sort of.  If all of this is relevant to determining advertisement rates, then someone should check to see if these applications generate lots of click throughs on ads.  How easy is it to ignore ads on messenger apps?  Very is the likely answer.

Someone searching a specific term or item gives an advertiser an opportunity to offer a product relevant to the search.  It just doesn't work that way with video streams or IM.  People concentrate on their conversations or what they are watching.  Ads are peripheral at best.  It's too early to tell how this is going to affect pricing in the online ad market until someone can correlate the view time at a web site with click throughs and sales.  The change, otherwise, may be interesting but not a great measure for advertisers or the host sites. 

Details are in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and Information Week.

July 11, 2007 | Permalink

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