It is not uncommon to see News Media Publishers drive un-segmented page views as one of their primary Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – And one of the biggest page view drivers for online News Media today are the common use of Galleries (slideshows if you will). I would argue that those additional page views, however massive they are, don’t deliver the same value to the advertiser, as compared to the core product (the news article) – and ultimately isn’t really what the user/reader wants.
I studied the usage patterns of one of the biggest News Media publishers in the US as part of an optimization dialogue and created the following four News Media content segments:
- News articles
- Front pages
Giving me a much better understanding of where the bulk of the page views and thus the advertising inventory is generated. There is no surprise in the below bar chart that visualize the total number of page views per news media content segment.
Galleries make up for almost 60% of all page views, which is a dramatic number. I believe it is dramatic, because you don’t have to conduct to many studies or interviews, to find that the value of a gallery page view, is probably not the same as news article page view. I was therefore interested in telling a different story with the same data.
I summed up the total time spent on each of the content segments using a simple time spent metric. Whether you believe that total time spent on news media content segments is identical to reader attention, probably doesn’t matter too much, as I am sure you would agree that, if not, it is at least a decent proxy metric.
There might be a positive surprise in the below visualization, which quite clearly shows that galleries might have the most page views in total, but that the core news media article product (and the front page it is promoted on) is where the reader spend most his time, and I would argue his attention.
It is therefore somewhat sad to see quality news articles getting thrown into ad exchanges and sold alongside galleries. I was therefore positively surprised and happy to see that Nick Denton and his Gawker Media announce their move away from measuring success on page-views. Starting 2010 they will measure and compensate success on Unique visitors. I’m no direct fan of one metric over the other and am not sure gawker has the ability to accurately calculate a true unique visitor. I am however a fan of not valuing every page view the same, simply because, any decent publisher knows how to increase page views without adding any real value to their publication (yes, I am talking about galleries).
- OR as Nick said it “An item which gets picked up and draws in new visitors is worth more than a catnip slideshow that our existing readers can’t help but click upon.”
There is some really good commentary on the subject on The Nieman Journalism Lab’s website as well.
/ Dennis (@dennismortensen)