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Are Pageviews Becoming Irrelevant?

In the old days of the internet (approximately 2 years for you traditional marketing folks), data was measured in terms of one or two primary metrics. If you said "hits" please exit my site immediately. Thank you, now that I have your attention, let's continue...

Primary success metrics of a given online campaign were routinely measured by leveraging total visits with the average number of pageviews per visit. This was a gold mine. I could create seemingly limitless reports based on this most elementary data. Of course that was in the days of synchronously loading page data - before scripting methodologies such as AJAX had to complicate matters.

Fast forward to today, page views are still a main stay within analytics programs such as Google Analytics however I question whether or not they should be. This belief can still be summed up within a few short accronyms and one syllable words: AJAX, PDFs, and Flash.

This method of scripting, a document type and multimedia application have been causing havoc for web analysts for some time now. And Adobe, you still have not convinced me that Flash is completely queriable. Especially given the fact that so many people still use Flash within a timeline. That is instead of it's one frame object-oriented routines with simple "getURL" linking structures found within this said frame. (And this is just one example of Flash 'issues' with regards to analytics, I have several more). Like text that is broken apart or part of a graphic instead of dynamic text instances.

The point is creating 'fake' pages that only have the responsibility of being logged within analytics programs (to aid with AJAX and PDFs) is a tedious process.

So... What metrics do I particularly like to use when providing reports to clients? Every vertical marketplace is going to be different however if I had to pick two to replace the above two metrics in terms of equal importance it would most likely be "Bounce Rate" and "Average Time Spent on Site".

AJAX can have many calls to varying pages occurring within the same HTML based document. PDFs can have text that has been converted as an outline (and is essentially speaking, merely a graphic). Neither of my above-mentioned two metrics are clouded by AJAX, PDFs, and Flash.

With "Bounce Rate" I can see definitively that someone came to a given site and left immediately thereafter. If this rate is unusually high I can then monitor that cluster of users against a series of other metrics (visitor loyalty, and traffic sources) more effectively than I could have done with a "pageviews" metric on a site predominantly coded using a series of AJAX calls.

With "Average Time Spent on Site" I can still see that a given user spent (X) amount of time on a given site. Since I can correlate this data across a series of given days, I can analyze why time on site may have been so very much higher on Monday, June 23, 2008.

At the end of the day, the one quote I will always repeat is 'the only thing constant is change.' Within the area of internet technology this could not be more true as I have seen entire methodologies completely change online within 12-18 months.

That being said, as the fundamentals of a more engaging Web 2.0 are starting to be realized it becomes more important than ever that web analysts provide clean and accurate data to web strategists so that they can react with a proper course of action for a given web campaign.

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8/16/2008 06:58:00 AM Subscribe to RSS FeedSubscribe to RSS Feed

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