On readers, page views and Daily Kos: What's in a number, anyway? [updated] [updated]


3 comments posted

Good evening, Media Girl.

You are right on the mark. Most "hit" meters measure pageloads. Moreover, most pageload meters do not make any effort to eliminate multiple hits by a single user in short sequence, as you explained happens on multi-page sites. Multiple hits are counted on blogs that have double-layer loads. You might notice that some blogs seem to "load" twice or even more before they come to rest and are navigable.

On my own blog, I provide both a pageload meter and a meter that measures the number of actual, "unique" visitors who have ever come to the site. Even my pageload meter I try to manage so it doesn't count one user too often, but this is a bit difficult to keep an eye on. My advertisers have their own ways of seeing traffic as they need to: they call their metric "impressions." Although I could impress some with hit meters that spin to high numbers more rapidly, it serves no purpose for me in understanding the composition of my audience and what is bringing readers to the site.

Apparently, however, a less disciplined metric presented visibly would impress some of the mainstream media sorts who decline the opportunity to understand basics of Web traffic and the various measurements of it.

The Dark Wraith has blustered enough about this subject, now.

Dark Wraith's picture
Posted by Dark Wraith (not verified) on 22 December 2005 - 5:50pm
actually its not far off

most large sites like dkos tend to have a very low average number of "page views per visit". on dkos that number is about 1.2, which means the number of page views vs number of viewers is almost the same. on a smaller site its typical to see a view-per-visit ratio of 3-5 or more. in the case of dkos, the downside of this low ratio is that it implies a "lower quality" of visitor overall since the proportion of silent spectators is very high. also there is a lot of variability in the trends of web traffic depending on current events (see the recent Google Zeitgeist 2005 report for example), so its hard to say exactly what the average level of traffic is for dkos, probably it would be safest to look at the average over the last 4 months or so at least.

aws's picture
Posted by aws (not verified) on 23 December 2005 - 3:01am
Do you have a source?

Are you making this up, or are you speaking out of school?

Using page view counts to announce website traffic is more akin to announcing magazine circulation based on how many magazines times how many pages are in the magazine.

Nearly all of the participants on the site must load the page dozens of times a day -- to read a diary, to read the comments, to read another diary, to read a front-page story, to see if there are more comments on the diary, and so on.

I loaded Daily Kos five times as I wrote the blog post just to see if he was going to mention any other "corrections."

And considering that most site visitors who read a blog will return several times during the week, it's clear that the notion that Daily Kos has "more readers than any political publication has had, ever, in the history of the world" is just based on a fundamental lack of understanding of the internet.

If you read a magazine, and put it down, and then pick it up later, does that count as another circulation number? Does that make you count as two readers of the magazine? Of course not. But it does in webstite traffic stats. And if you pass that magazine on to a friend to read, does that end up getting counted in circulation numbers? No. But it does in website traffic stats.

Even counting website "visits" (i.e., unique visitors who view one or several pages during one visit) cannot be compared with print circulation numbers.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 23 December 2005 - 9:43am