Pageviews Aren't Perfect but They're a Good Place to Start

Mar 14, 2014

There's nothing like hyperbole to get someone's attention.  Oh boy, did Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile get people's attention when he said "what you think you know about the web is wrong"- but let's all take a breath before we start throwing out our Google Analytics data.  There are some interesting facts about sharing and about the average time users spend on an article, but while I agree that Google Analytics tracking isn't perfect, that doesn't make it wrong. I can't read a story if I haven't seen it, so while pageviews aren't perfect, they're still a pretty strong indicator of engagement.

I agree that we need better metrics, and Tony runs a company that may someday be able to give us those metrics. For now, instead of trying to dream up the best metrics let's try to make use of what we do have because chances are that we already know enough to take action. If we aren't taking action on the things we know already, why invest in something new? So for most of you, your time might be better spent looking at your Google Analytics than reading this article.

"Sites like the New York Times are redesigning themselves in ways that place less emphasis on the all-powerful click. New upstarts like Medium and Upworthy are eschewing pageviews and clicks in favor of developing their own attention-focused metrics." -Tony Haile, Time.com article

  Maybe the shift to attention based measures is shows that they can be important, but they're only one way of looking at engagement. We have struggled with ways of quantifying session engagement but just like clicks, attention metrics have flaws.  It's important to realize that engagement isn't limited to a single session - we need to think about engagement over time.   We need to provide content that allows us to start a relationship with our audience so that we can continue to engage with them over time.  A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. So take a first step and give some attention to your data.  

For the record, my ideal measures include understanding and action but those are still hard to quantify unless you're the NSA. Maybe soon they'll write a post telling me I'm doing it wrong.