Nielsen/NetRatings, one of the U.S.'s largest Internet benchmarking companies, announced it will no longer use pageviews to compare websites. Instead the firm will begin using the total time spent by users of a site as its primary measurement metric:
"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 is 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?'"
For example, he said, MySpace may have 10 to 11 times more page views than YouTube, but myspace.com users spend only three times more minutes on the site, Ross added. Therefore, measuring total time spent on a site will make it easier for advertisers to mold their ads to how users are actually accessing content, he said.
"On YouTube there will be more ads flowing in based on duration (on videos)," he said. "The more time I spend on YouTube ... [advertisers] will figure out a way to monetize that."
Nielsen/NetRatings will still report page views as a secondary metric, and it will continue to reevaluate its primary metric as technology continues to evolve, Ross added. "For the foreseeable future, we will champion minutes if you are comparing two sites. Going forward, we'll see what that equates to in terms of true advertising opportunity," he said.
The change will have a big impact on the rankings of some companies. For instance, Google will rank a lot lower because users don't spend much time there.