Fairfax Digital will no longer use “unique browsers” as the main audience measuring metric on its news websites. Instead, it intends using total time spent by users on site as its primary measurement metric.
Scott Ross, director of product marketing at Nielsen/NetRatings, said the change was prompted,
“by a continuing increase in the use of AJAX, and XML, which allows a Web site to refresh content without reloading an entire page, and to the growing use of audio and video streaming.
“It is not that page views are irrelevant now, but they are a less accurate gauge of total site traffic and engagement,” Ross said. “Total minutes are the most accurate gauge to compare between two sites. If [Web] 1.0 is full page refreshes for content, Web 2.0 is, ‘How do I minimize page views and deliver content more seamlessly?’”
Liza Boston founder of advertising agency Cracked pepper supports the introduction of time spent as a new metric,
“Unique browsers are currently the best metric to determine reach, but do nothingto determine engagement. Consider this, is it preferably to have 5 million people visit your site and click on one page only, or would you rather have 1 million people who spend hours a month engaging with your site? There is no doubt both are important.”
Fairfax digital has taken the first step in seeing if there is a better way to gauge interaction. One of the strengths of online marketing is the ease and speed at which interaction can be measured. Combining time spent and unique browsers will give publishers and marketers the best of both worlds.