Courtesy of our friends at Marketing Pilgrim and Yahoo News, Nielsen//Netratings is foregoing the use of page views as a measure of web site engagement in favor of tracking how much time users spend at the web sites they visit. This new metric, accounting for both the amount of user sessions at a website, as well as the average amount of time per session, will be called ‘Total Minutes’.
This new metric was developed in response to recent developments in web development, including Web 2.0, online gaming, AJAX, streaming media (ie YouTube) that were under-represented under the old model of tracking user engagement.
At first blush, this might seem like a welcome development, but only time will tell if that will prove true. While much better at accounting for some of the recent technological developments on the web, this new model still leaves gaping holes that bring its accuracy into question.
Tabbed/Multiple Browsers - As stated so eloquently in Andy Beal’s post, tabbed browsers and users surfing with multiple browsers are a substantial hurdle for this new model by over-inflating the amount of time users spend on a site. This should average out over time, emphasis on the word should.
More Time, Same Impressions - If you’re an advertiser, do you necessarily care how much time users spend on the sites you advertise on? The fact of the matter is, whether people are spending 5 or 5000 seconds on a particular website, the number of ad impressions will not change.