It appears that Nielson/NetRatings is planning on changing up the game by adopting a new metric to gauge website activity. Currently most web traffic is measured by the number of pages viewed on a website. Traditionally it is not considered a highly accurate number, but we can attempt to compensate for deviations such as accidental refreshes, failed navigation attempts, and other actions which do not constitute a direct page view. However, Nielson isn’t exactly clear on the terms of the new metric it will adopt: total minutes.
It appears that Nielson/NetRatings has concerned itself with advertisers entirely. How greatly their new metric will affect the Internet is unknown at this point. Clearly they haven’t though the implications through enough, citing such cliche terms as “Web 2.0” and buzz-technologies such as AJAX in their reasoning for the new metric.
As far as I can see, if this metric does gain traction in the advertising industry, it could spell bad news for large portions of the Internet.
Page views may produce inflated results, but it’s far easier to parse those results for standard deviations.
(Note: I have built AJAX-powered web applications in the past. I understand that it does have positive uses, but in my experience it is a rare case that would make me turn to AJAX for a solution. Just for some disclosure — I don’t blindly support AJAX, despite the claims of many of its proponents.)