Every day, thousands of web analysts log on to their respective analytics tools like Google Analytics, Adobe Omniture Suite and others to know what the magic number is. The magic number here being the Page Views (PV). The analytics industry is so entirely in love with PVs that they just do not value the importance of other parameters that can help an organisation come up with a better plan to promote the service or the product in question.
The fault does not rest with the web analysts. It rests with the decision makers in an organisation and the advertisers, whose primary and usually the only focus is on PVs. The higher the number of page views, the better they believe, is the performance and visibility of their product. What they fail to understand is that PVs alone are not enough to gauge the success of a campaign or for that matter, for user retention on a website.
What about the Time Spent (TS) on the website, the number of Returning Users (RU) and obviously the Bounce Rate (BR)?
Case Study – Page Views vs Time Spent
I would be discussing about how TS is more important for a content-centric website than PVs.
Let’s take the example of a content-centric portal.
The following points of note are sold by the powers that be of the portal:
1. Incremental addition of PVs for the Home Page of the website on a Month on Month (MoM) basis is 900,000 users
2. The website’s home page got a whopping 40,000,000 PVs the last month
3. Demographic details of the users and their income groups are thrown in to glorify the PVs
The portal has been facing the following problems for over a year:
1. MoM increment in the number of users has been stagnant
2. Users are contributing their content and interacting with only a few sections of the website
3. These sections have been getting steady PVs
4. The push to PVs that was envisaged to rope in more advertisers is just not working
Why are users interacting with only a few sections on the website?
This is the question that most of the portal/website managers just don’t ask! The reason is that their focus is on increasing the PVs for the portal.
If only, they could understand users’ behaviour on the portal, they would know more about the content and the creative aspect being consumed by the users the most. And yes, the answer does not lie in PVs but in TS.
The average time spent by a user on a page or a section of the portal tells an analyst a very interesting fact – the content on these sections is either pathetic, barely there, good or awesome.
If the user is spending a long time on a page which is content-centric, they are probably (web analytics and probability go hand-in-hand) enjoying what they are consuming. Either this or the content is so pathetic that they were just left staring at it (highly unlikely).
If your user is spending a considerable amount of time on a page that has less of copy and more of creative properties, they probably are again, in awe of it and are willing to spend more than the combined average time spent on any of the sections of your portal.
The key is to identify this sub-set of users. Identify where they are coming from (referrals), what pages are they moving to (paths), which location they are consuming their content from (geography) and what device they are consuming it on (devices). If you have identified these parameters, you have zoomed in on the ideal target group for your content. The spill-overs would keep coming and going but these are the users who are driving your portal’s success. I am discounting those with short attention span and the excessively active users 😉
In my experience in monitoring websites that are content-centric and otherwise, the TS by users has given better insights than plain reliance on PVs. You put online banners promoting a section of your portal all across the web, with the destination having garbled text; the PVs would be phenomenal but the TS would be exceptionally poor.
Do not generalise your target group by relying only on PVs; your content is not generalised, is it?