Web Statistics Must Evolve From Number Of Visitors To Their Intensity And Engagement On Site

The structure of modern media business relies much on the size of audience to ascertain the advert potentials for firms. In the broadcast TV, the goal is to raise ratings measured by Nielsen in order to command more advert rates. This model is anchored on the construct that advertisers have to pay based on the number of viewers seeing their products. The CPT (cost per thousand) that measures the cost of reaching a thousand viewers is an industry standard.


Yes, a news aggregator gets a lot of bounce on the site and as soon as people arrive, they depart. But people spend hours on social media sites. And when it comes to advertising dollars, most people quote the number of visitors, despite the obvious skewed nature of that statistics. Is it the number of visitors of the visitor engagement or intensity that ad managers should focus on when determining where to put money?


Imitating the broadcast TV, the web business has a similar strategy that focuses on the number of people that visit a site. In other words, many web businesses have strategies that work to monetize the number of hits they receive on their sites. Any effort that gets customers to the web is a winning one. Advertisers will pay based on the numbers of site visitors and they can calibrate their investments with metrics similar to CPT.


Increasingly, we have seen that the structure of websites is designed to enable more hits because that is the most important metric that can be monetized. The web has followed the magazine, newspaper, cable and broadcast TV models despite the fact that it has evolved in many better ways that any of those industries.


While this model works, it is very deficient, especially for web business. Unfortunately, the use of CPT like model continues to affect how marketing directors allocate marketing dollars. From my perspective, while the size of a web audience matters, the most important thing is the intensity that website can create with potential advertized products.


This is important because audience intensity offers a more potential reward to ad dollar that web audience size. Understandably, you have to bring people to a site before you can access the intensity the site brings to them. However, it is safe to examine audience intensity within the context of niche-media strategy where advertisers spend money on sites where audience intensity is a higher metric than the size of the audience.


Let me illustrate my case using an example. Facebook is #1 website in United States in terms of the size of audience; more people visit the size daily than any other one. Naturally, it would be the most natural place to advertise. However, the demographics on Facebook do not make it the best place to advertise the release of a new Lincoln MKS.


The reason is that Facebook may not create enough intensity for a product like Lincoln MKS which is usually associated with people over the age of 50 years. They will see the ad, but few will connect to it.


The same argument can be made for different products and websites. What is important is the level of intensity the viewers and site visitors have and how that could match a product being advertised. This brings the need of measuring web intensity.


The Internet era needs new statistics that transcend beyond what the traditional broadcast TV has used for decades.  We must bring that element of ascertaining the engagement of site visitors.


We already see websites that use many distractions to get web hits. Unfortunately, that statistics does not reveal how connected the visitors are to the site. We need to push more and get that intensity data for the future of web business.


Closely related to this intensity is the need to ascertain how web contents engage their visitors. You can have a passive website like many news organizations where you just come to read news and without a section to make comment. Interestingly, many news organizations have tried to solve this problem by making sure that readers can post comments on contents. This engagement of visitors to post is very vital as it can help to access the level of intensity they really have on that site. An intense visitor has a higher chance of clicking an ad than a passive web visitor.


This makes a case why I will be ready to spend more ad money on a website where people play online video game that one where people just come passively to read headlines. The former brings intense visitors, while the latter may not be ideally intense.  You may not easily get them to start clicking ads easily. This makes it very interesting. It is possible that one group will be passive in one site and be intense in another one, making it more important to align ad products to site contents.


Quantitatively, I will prefer a website with 1000 daily visitors where the intensity of visitors is higher than one with 1500 visitors that have passive visitors. I can access that intensity by looking at how many clicks they performed on the site when they visited. The necessity of measuring how many clicks, not just time, a visitor makes on a site visit is very important to ascertain how likely that person can click an ad. That statistics is very important to know the attitude of site visitors and the essence of selling ads to that site.


Take an example; many websites suffer what I will call ‘content shocks’. During the election period, the hit rates of many politics focused sites go up, few weeks after election, they drop. The same thing applies to sports websites. Buying multi-year ads on such sites without accounting for those shocks will be irresponsible.


Personally, I have noticed that I rarely click many news contents in the morning since I have to get to work. However, in the evening, I do click those contents when I visit news sites. Understanding the attitude of customers depending on the time of the day will help marketing directors spend money wisely. You may focus on display ad in the morning since in most cases the visitors are not searching; they just want to read the headlines and get ready for work. In the evening, you can ask for text ad when they are back and can actually spend time on the web.


In conclusion, we need more statistics to turn web business into pure science. An introduction of metrics that go beyond size of visitors to site intensity is a necessary model to decouple web advertising from the frameworks that have been used in traditional media industry for decades. It will provide a more transparent vehicle to web advertisers and possibly help site designers focus on things that will help businesses advertise their products, efficiently.

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