Working on the online side of daily newspapers for a little more than five years now, I’ve come to measure all manner of worth in terms of the almighty page view. That elusive metric is used to determine what stories are the “best” by newspaper execs everywhere – and it leads people like me to have our value to the company measured in daily traffic numbers (coming soon to therapist’s couch near you).
Of course, we use this measurement because it’s the only way we really know how to measure ad cpm. This method is about the closest we have to the way we measured advertising value in newspapers for generations, so we just stuck with it. Each reload or link-click is measured an an impression – even if it didn’t make an impression at all.
We as an industry need to rid ourselves of this antiquated view of internet value. Page views are a metric that means very little when you get right down to it. It doesn’t measure anyone’s engagement on a page, or even how many sets of eyeballs have scanned the headline. All it tells you is that someone clicked a link to this page or refreshed it on their screen. They might not have even scanned the page.
Call me crazy, but I say we need to move away from the almighty page view just to get back to the core of our business. We know news doesn’t make an impact by merely being spotted, it needs to be read (at least a little). If we really care about engaging our audience, we should measure actual engagement (in time on site) or at least the true number of visitors (unique users).
Why pat ourselves on the back for receiving hundreds of thousands of page views from 200 people who have loaded a webcam that auto-refreshes every 10-15 seconds? Is that engagement? Are they even really watching it at all?
More importantly, does anyone even care?