A bunch of you read and commented about my post from February titled “Afraid of page views dying? Don’t be!” in which I proposed that we use “visits” or “sessions” instead of “page views” or “unique visitors” (sic) to compare traffic across different sites. It appears perhaps that someone at comScore was paying attention as well. According to their press release:
“As technologies like AJAX change the Internet landscape, certain measures of engagement, such as page views, are diminishing in significance for many Web properties,” said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix. “The introduction of these new metrics based on ‘visits’ provides an alternative for measuring user engagement that tells us how frequently visitors are actually returning to the site to view more content.”
I don’t necessarily agree that visits tells us that much about visitor engagement but I do agree with comScores reasoning behind using visits. I actually suggested something like this to comScore’s Andrew Lippsman on February 15th, 2007 when I wrote him:
“What prevents you guys from reporting on SESSIONS rather than page views or unique visitors? Anything?”
Far be it from me to assume that my email had anything to do with comScores decision to roll sessions into their reporting … let’s just assume that great minds think alike!
So here is a test of the value of comScore’s decision: For all the site operators in the world who have ever complained about the differences between comScore’s unique visitor counts relative to their own web analytics tracking, compare your session (= visits) counts to what comScore reports. Because, as I said back in February, sessions is a much more clearly defined and less controversial metric, my suspicion is that you’ll see much greater alignment between the two systems than you were seeing based on UVs.
I would LOVE to get comments or email from anyone using both systems (comScore and traditional web analytics) to see what correlation (or lack thereof) you see. If I’m right (not saying I am), even without bugging Andrew and Gian Fulgoni about the specifics behind their “visit” counting, I bet we’re going to see far less variation when comparing visits between these technologies, thusly reinforcing the idea that sessions (= visits) IS the right metric.
Either way, thanks to comScore for being open minded enough to revisit the numbers they report to tell a more complete story to their customers and the rest of us too cheap to pony up for their reports but are still paying attention.
(Thanks to Marshall for catching the comScore press release, by the way …)