Nielsen to focus on time spent, not page views

Nielsen to focus on time spent, not page views, in measuring Web site popularity

Associated Press
Article Launched: 07/09/2007 12:43:28 PM PDT

NEW YORK – A leading online measurement service will scrap rankings
based on the longtime industry yardstick of page views and begin
tracking how long visitors spend at the sites.

The move by Nielsen/NetRatings, expected to be announced Tuesday, comes
as online video and new technologies increasingly make page views less
meaningful.

Although Nielsen already measures average time spent and average number
of sessions per visitor for each site, it will start reporting total
time spent and sessions for all visitors to give advertisers, investors
and analysts a broader picture of what sites are most popular.

Currently, sites and advertisers often use page views, a figure that
reflects the number of Web pages a visitor pulls from a site.

However, Yahoo Inc. and others are increasingly using a software trick
called Ajax to improve the user experience. It allows sites to update
data automatically and continually, without users needing to pull up
new pages. Page views decline as a result.

Page views also drop as people spend more time watching online video at sites like Google Inc.’s YouTube.

"Based on everything that’s going on with the influx of Ajax and
streaming, we feel total minutes is the best gauge for site traffic,"
said Scott Ross, director of product marketing at Nielsen. "We’re
changing our stance on how the data should be" used.

Nielsen will still provide page view figures but won’t formally rank them. Ross said

 

page view remains a valid gauge
of a site’s ad inventory, but time spent is better for capturing the
level of engagement users have with a site.

Ranking top sites by
total minutes instead of page views gives Time Warner Inc.’s AOL a
boost, largely because time spent on its popular instant-messaging
software now gets counted. AOL ranks first in the United States with 25
billion minutes based on May data, ahead of Yahoo’s 20 billion. By page
views, AOL would have been sixth.

Google, meanwhile, drops to fifth in time spent, primarily because its
search engine is focused on giving visitors quick answers and links for
going elsewhere. By page views, Google ranks third.

In both page views and time spent, Yahoo is ahead of News Corp.’s
MySpace and other Fox Interactive Media sites, according to the Nielsen
measures.

Yahoo has more than twice the time spent as Fox, but has less than a 10
percent edge in page views. That is because MySpace requires users to
pull up a new page anytime they make a change or view a new profile,
while Yahoo increasingly uses Ajax to continually pull new data, even
if a user stays on the same page all day.

Nielsen’s rival, comScore Media Metrix, also has addressed the rise of
Ajax with the development of site "visits" – defined as the number of
times a person returns to a site with a break of at least a half-hour.

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