LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP
Internet media was supposed to be far more reliably measurable than traditional, mainstream media. But due to the pace of change in the underlying technology, what's good for web users and publishers is not good for the business model in the short-term.
As this story in Betanews explains:
"Yesterday's comScore Media Metrix report, exclaiming that estimates of page views for social networking site MySpace at 38.7 million for the month of November topped those for Yahoo by 600,000, came with some small print that should have generated at least an asterisk beside today's headlines: Yahoo has recently moved to an AJAX-driven page model, which probably reduced the number of complete page refreshes per user."
This is not an unexpected turn of events for those of us who watch this stuff closely, but as the article explains, the business end of things may take much longer to catch up than the technology. Here's another excerpt:
"The possibility that analytics measurement schemes could be months, if not years, behind the times could actually be good news for sites such as CNET, whose stock value and even corporate status have come under fire recently in the face of page view numbers that appeared to decline by 55% just between September 2005 and September 2006.
So Yahoo! is not alone, and many other web media companies are facing a similar issue.
But traditional media companies may have incentive not to wean themselves off page views as fast as the web companies. As Steve Rubel explains in a quote from the BetaNews story:
"This is a dirty little secret in the advertising business that no one wants to talk about," Rubel writes. "Media companies love to promote how many page views their properties get.
They've used the data to build equity. They will fight it tooth and nail to protect it, perhaps by not embracing interactive technologies as quickly as they should. But that's not going to stop the revolution from coming."
And technology is moving further than even Ajax- related issues.
Fred Wilson highlights the growing use of distributed widgets by companies in order to build major traffic. The example cited is startup MyBloglog, which has very effectively used this technique to ramp it's user base in recent months.
And as the Hollywood Reporter points out, things get muddier still when you introduce video into the mix...what are page views in that world after all?
In the meantime, we all need to take most internet metrics claims and counter-claims with a larger lump of salt, and take a little closer look at underlying realities. And that's opportunity with a capital "O".