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Nielsen rating company has shifted from the traditional “number of page views” to “time spent viewing a page” to measure a web site’s commercial worth.
This is a decision that will have a serious impact on all advertising companies that determine their web advertisement rates on the basis of such “objective” metrics.
The new Ajax technology seems to be the main culprit why Nielsen felt the need to adopt this new criterion. Ajax allows refreshing the web content without refreshing the page view. You must have noticed the way a new mail appears in your email window without re-loading the page, as we all used to do in the past.
Another reason why the traditional “page view” is considered losing its relevance is the streaming video sites like YouTube where visitors spend a lot of time on a single page watching one video clip after another.
On the basis of this new measuring stick, Nielsen has announced AOL as the winner of May’s “most popular” web site, with a total viewing time of 25 billion minutes, followed by Yahoo at 20 billion minutes. But by page view alone, AOL would have ranked sixth.
Google, although ranks 3rd by page views, dropped to fifth in terms of time spent since people leave Google screen quickly after a search is completed.
But I believe this new criterion has a serious flaw in this day and age of tabbed browsers.
What if you visit a site on one tab, then open another tab and go to another site, then do it for a third or fourth time? I find myself doing precisely that all the time.
What happens to the site left open for 20 hours on a forgotten tab? Does that mean that I have spent 20 hours on that site? Of course not.
How come Nielsen missed such a simple point is beyond me. I’m sure major advertisers are already grappling with this real issue.