Time spent more valid than the page view - Nielsen
A new study by Nielsen/NetRatings examines the top UK websites using three different metrics - page impressions, visitors, and time spent. It concludes that the page view is becoming less relevant, a mantra we're hearing increasingly often.
The report argues that the growth of Web 2.0 sites, and the different ways that users are interacting with social media means that advertisers are looking beyond the page impression as a way to measure user behaviour.
The top sites by page impression are:
* Google, with 3.8bn
* eBay - 3.7bn
* Yahoo - 2bn
* Facebook has most page impressions per UK visitor
* Bebo is next on 436, followed by eBay on 256
Top sites by visits are:
* Google - 431m
* MSN/Windows Live - 221m
* Yahoo - 178m
* Google has 16.8 visits per visitor, MSN has 12.7, while Facebook has 12.2
Most engaging UK sites (by time spent on site):
* eBay - 27.9m hours spent
* Google - 21.8m hours
* MSN/Windows Live - 15.7m hours
* RuneScape - 6 hours 32 mins per visitor
* EA Online - 3h 7m
* Bebo - 2h 37m
Games-related sites accounted for four of the top seven sites by time per visitor, yet none of these sites were in the top 50 for page views - Nielsen analyst Alex Burmaster argues that users engage with these sites in a way that is closer to TV, and that time spent is becoming more of a factor for advertisers.
According to Burmaster:
"As the technology that publishers use to deliver content to the user moves away from static, reloaded pages to more streamlined content – e.g. online videos - the page-view is becoming a less relevant gauge of where might be the best place to advertise online."
"Consequently advertisers will have to look at other metrics, such as time spent or visits, to see where their online ad pound might be best spent.”
Certainly, time spent on a website is a useful metric when looking at how users interact with a site, but it does have its drawbacks.
It doesn't take account of time spent on RSS feeds for instance, and stats could be skewed if a user simply goes away from their PC or laptop and leaves a site open on their browser.
That said, no metric is perfect - unique visitors, the most reliable method at the moment, still has its inaccuracies. A recent comScore study found that cookie deletion was inflating visitor stats by as much as 150%.