Back in December, I predicted the eventual demise of “page views” as an online measurement tool - one that's out of synch with today's dynamic Web. I called for new metrics that are more representative of true activity, especially with increasing integration of video and cool technologies like Ajax and Flash. A new metric has recently emerged in that I think is worth noting.
comScore just introduced “visits,” a metric that counts the number of times people visit a site per day. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it's an important evolution of their existing "frequency" measurement, which only captures the average number of days people visit a site per month. While that's relevant data, it doesn't quantify how engaged people really are in their daily interactions with a site. For instance, if someone visits Yahoo! five times in one day, the "frequency" measurement would only count it as one usage day, regardless of whether you’re a first-timer or a regular. Now with the new “visits” metric, we can accurately show how many times that visitor comes back throughout their day - whether just once or multiple times. I think “visits” provides a better snapshot of today’s Web activity and creates a better proof-point for a loyal and engaged audience. To me, this is a true measurement of consumer choice - how many times does a consumer choose to visit that site.
Here’s how it works: As you sip your morning coffee, you scan the headlines of the day, you write a couple emails on Yahoo! Mail, and then do a quick read on your stocks at Yahoo! Finance. 1 visit. After three back-to-back meetings, you remember that your significant other’s birthday is coming up, so you check out the Yahoo! Travel reviews for user recommendations on the most romantic hotel and book your last minute getaway. 2 visits. When you come back from lunch, you check to see if your friend has responded to your email about next week’s party. 3 visits. As you pack up to leave, you go to Yahoo! Local to look up that new sushi bar two cities away, and click Yahoo! Maps for directions to the restaurant. 4 visits.
You get the picture. With “visits,” we get an added layer of data that, combined with reach (the number of users) and engagement (how long they stay), yields a much more comprehensive and meaningful portrait of people’s interactions and activities online. You could even argue that multiple visits a day is more valuable than one long visit, even if the amount of time spent on the site is the same. Why? Because that user is choosing to come back again and again.
This by no means is a silver bullet, as this metric doesn't count ad consumption and impressions (which, by the way, is also a drawback of page views). What it does provide is a valuable reference for advertisers to determine where to increase their ad exposure and budgets. The more loyal users and “visits” a site has, the more opportunities a particular ad has to be seen. It’s also a key measure of a site’s value and impact to a consumer’s life. There is still more work to be done and we continue to work with our industry counterparts to put in place online measurements that better capture a constantly changing Internet environment.
In closing, big thanks to you for making Yahoo! the most-visited network in January. You stopped by an average of 30 “visits” per month. We’ll make sure to keep coming up with cool products and services, so you’ll keep knocking on our door.
Chief of Insights