Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

January 15, 2008

Inflating Pageviews For Profit

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:22 pm

Whenever somebody talks about a website’s traffic, they always seem to mention page views. A page view is just that, a count of every web page that’s loaded.

For a long time now, many of us in the industry have said that pageviews aren’t really an accurate metric of anything. Let’s look at an example. To send an email on MySpace, I generate 7 pageviews. The home page, the page it takes me to after I login, then my home page, my inbox, the compose mail screen, the are you sure screen, and then thank you screen. The same action on Gmail takes 2 pageviews. Since they’re using AJAX on the back end, the page never really reloads – the content just changes.

Ok, now that everybody understands pageviews, why do they matter? The reason they matter is that ad companies often pay by the impression. An impression is counted every time their ad is loaded. So by designing a process to take 7 pageviews instead of 2, MySpace can show 7 ads as opposed to the 2 ads that Gmail shows. The trend in web2.0 lately seems to be one of adding steps into applications for the sole purpose of creating more ad impressions.

How much more can one stand to profit by doing this? As it turns out, a lot! Drew Curtis of Fark.com just ran a small experiment yesterday in which he set Fark’s homepage to automatically refresh every 10 minutes. The results?

Drew saw his pageviews increase by over 38% That’s a lot more pageviews – over 865,000 to be exact. Even at a very low advertising rate of $.50 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) that’s still an extra $433 daily profit for Drew. Drew now understands why sites like CNN do an auto refresh: Once you turn it on, you can’t really turn it off. How do you explain to executives that you made a change that lowered your earnings by 30%?

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