PV is just not cool any more

Page View (PV) was among the most important metrics which evaluate how well-trafficked websites are. Websites used to enhance their PV by all means, or even misrepresent the metric in order to build high reputation. However, PV does not really take into consideration how users are actually viewing. High PV might indicate that you’re awesome at driving traffic to your site, but what’s beyond? What kind of traffic is it? The right kind, the kind what will come back, engage, and share, or the bad one? In fact, now the Internet has entered a new era when it is all about what consumers do. PV is just not cool any more.

There’s a clear pattern in the direction the Web is heading — interaction and responsiveness, namely, engagement. If you are going for incredible user experience, on-page interactions are your bread and butter. This trend further devalues the PV as a valid metric. If you have a highly interactive Web application that spans only a few pages, there’s not a whole lot of value in seeing how many times those pages were loaded. Much more valuable information can be found by tracking the parts of your application that your users are interacting with the most.

That is to say, as you can directly measure the things that are important to you, and you would gain unparalleled insights into how people actually use your application, PV is now reduced to a vanity metric which is utilized to sugar up the data.

Nielsen, which abandoned page views to focus on time spent on a site, thinks that’s a better measure of engagement, especially when it comes to online video. Acts of engagement includes things like the loading of the page, scrolling, resizing the window, mousing down, pressing the down arrow key and the like. These acts can be divided up between “initial” engagement (such as loading a page) and “ongoing” engagement (like scrolling down). They are all about knowing precisely what that user is engaging with and how.

On the other hand, different business models require different evaluation measurements. Companies that are built on subscription model attach no more importance to PV in that this model goes far away from the advertisement-based business world. For companies that sell something, metrics like average revenue per user (ARPU) and customer lifetime value (CLV) can tell a full story of your content instead. It doesn’t make any sense to focus on PV when you can measure the real goal directly. Besides, conversion funnel analysis, event tracking, and click tracking can also help draw a whole picture for you.

For example, as an online UGC and publishing website, PV of Medium mounted by 80% in the last year according to Comscore. However, the more valuable metric is the time that users spend to read on the website. For a social publishing platform, mass audiences make no sense. The most suitable readers matter instead. As a result, identifying your goals before setting success metric is more essential.

The new way of measurement is also more crucial for web publishing — it says more about whether or not a person saw an advertisement and for how long, rather than simply registering an “impression” and assuming that means anything at all.

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