MediaPost/Nielsen on the Death of PageView Metrics

Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Nielsen BuzzMetrics, has a piece up on MediaPost predicting that 2007 will *not* be the year that PageView dies as a valid metric for web advertising.  As the title notes, he sees weakening, but doesn’t it to totally go away.

The shortcomings, flaws and growing irrelevance of the page view are undeniable, but will the page view die as quickly as so many predict or hope? To the detriment of the online publishing industry’s advancement, my prediction is the metric will fade, or evolve, pretty slowly. I agree with Dan Melvin, who commented on Fred Wilson’s blog post on the topic: “[O]nline media metrics are only the tail, and they don’t wag the dog anymore. The dog is advertising revenue, and that will drive what metrics are used. But the reality is that decision-making on where to buy online ad space doesn’t change very quickly, so I’m not convinced that metrics will change quickly either, even though they should in a perfect world. PVs and UVs will likely still be used just because they provide comparability. Even if they become less accurate proxies to what ad buyers really want to know, they might persist just because there are no better universally used proxies. Hopefully better metrics will become universally used but I think it will take a long time.”

Barring any relevant replacement, he’s right.  Even though we’re all aware our data is flawed, until we get a different data model, we’re gonna dance with the girl we came with.

The problem is that deep down, we know we can’t rely on the stats.  I’ve said for a long time, where possible we’ve got to tie our campaigns to real world events, such as purchases, lead generation and that’s got to be done by proper promocoding, and dogged attention to analyzing where the real dollars are coming from.  CPM, CPC, etc. are no good for anything other than affinity purchases – and affinity marketing, where one is essentially providing a public service for the good will of the niche market, is best accomplished in a more transparent medium, such as outright sponsorship of an industry forum, etc.  I’ve just completed a major affinity marketing site (it’s a closed subscription model, only open to vetted niche members, so I won’t bother linking it here) where I integrated vBulletin Instant Community software throughout the site for security/subscription management – very cool stuff. 

So remember, measure the end goal and take every other bit of metrics you get with a grain of salt.

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