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The Problem With Metrics in a Web2.0 World

Steve Rubel is asking What Will Replace the Almighty Page View? but I am not quite convinced by his candidate, “Events”.

These days most interactive web sites are built using Flash and/or Ajax (a cake mix of Javascript, XML and HTML). Page views are useless here. They only count complete refreshes of a page. Yahoo’s page views fell late last year as it increasingly turned to these technologies to power popular products like Yahoo Maps. Enter “events.” Sophisticated web measurement tools, such as Google Analytics, can track every single interaction an individual makes within a page – including Flash and Ajax.

This is good, we are getting somewhere. Some challenges to this as a key metric though.

  • Who decides which events count?
  • How do you decide which events count?
  • Are more events better? A better made UI might require fewer events …
  • Is reading one post one event? Even if it is over multiple pages? Reward a metric and people cheat that metric …
  • If I pull some content by clicking, dragging and filtering, how many events is that? I pulled up a piece of content (one event) but had to go through several (possibly tedious) interactions ..

My personal favourites are still Conversions (where the money is), Active Registered Users and if that is not possible, Unique Visitors. Despite the problems of how do you define “active” and the cookie problem with Uniques, they still hold the most telling health check of a web property in my view.

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Comments

  1. This is a great question. I saw Rubel’s post and made the same comment on his post about conversions. At the end of the day, meeting your specific business goals is the only measurement that really matters. Traffic is nice, page view are nice, referrers are nic…but it’s meeting your business goals that actually lets you be in business.

  2. This is a great question. I saw Rubel’s post and made the same comment on his post about conversions. At the end of the day, meeting your specific business goals is the only measurement that really matters. Traffic is nice, page view are nice, referrers are nic…but it’s meeting your business goals that actually lets you be in business.

  3. I still believe that unique visitors and page views are more important. Registered users to a degree as I believe a high percentage of a lot of sites users are no longer active or spambot create. User activity has to count for something.

    While making certain content more user friendly with ajax may reduce overall page views it should (if done properly) increase visitor numbers.

    I can imagine if Digg did not use ajax their page views would either skyrocket at best or plummet as users leave or reduce activity.

  4. I still believe that unique visitors and page views are more important. Registered users to a degree as I believe a high percentage of a lot of sites users are no longer active or spambot create. User activity has to count for something.

    While making certain content more user friendly with ajax may reduce overall page views it should (if done properly) increase visitor numbers.

    I can imagine if Digg did not use ajax their page views would either skyrocket at best or plummet as users leave or reduce activity.

  5. Great questions, Chris.

    We (hopefully) answered your questions at GrokDotCom about how to measure ‘Events’ (really, they’re ‘interactions’) within the context of persuasion scenarios. The good news is that once you’ve modeled visitor behavior according to buying modality, you’ve got a predictive model that can then be measured and optimized. In other words, once you’ve planned the experience properly, you’ll already know which ‘Events’ are worth measuring AND what they mean.

    Kudos for pointing out conversion as the metric that applies across the board. The only thing Web 2.0 has to fear is lack of planning (and fear itself?).

  6. Great questions, Chris.

    We (hopefully) answered your questions at GrokDotCom about how to measure ‘Events’ (really, they’re ‘interactions’) within the context of persuasion scenarios. The good news is that once you’ve modeled visitor behavior according to buying modality, you’ve got a predictive model that can then be measured and optimized. In other words, once you’ve planned the experience properly, you’ll already know which ‘Events’ are worth measuring AND what they mean.

    Kudos for pointing out conversion as the metric that applies across the board. The only thing Web 2.0 has to fear is lack of planning (and fear itself?).