I’m not quite sure what to do with the meme that’s running rampant in certain neighborhoods of the online world regarding the short life expectancy the page view has been given. On the one hand it makes sense to me that, yes, some tools that are being used are going to render the page view obsolete as a measurement tool. RSS and Ajax aren’t going to move the needle on page views and therefore it is not going to be an accurate measure of online activity.
On the other hand, though, I think that proclaiming the coming end of page views is a bit like declaring the coming end of, I don’t know, the office. Yes, maintaining an actual office will eventually be an unneeded expense as home internet connections become faster and cheaper. And it will be easier to attract the right worker if you aren’t going to force them to uproot their family and make them move to wherever someone 40 years ago decided to take out a lease. Is there a legitimate point to be discussed? Yes. But let’s spend more time figuring out how to work this problem then just trying to get linked to for asking a difficult question.
The first thing to remember is that, regardless of page views, visitors are still going to be an important number that will need to be measured. Even if you’ve AJAXed the page, put all sorts of windows and widgets on it and made it so that the visitor never really needs to leave it, you still need to count the people how load that site. This should be a given but I’m afraid some have overlooked this reality. And this number added to the number of email or RSS subscriptions should give you a good number of people whose eyeballs you can count and report.
After that it comes down to…wait for it…engagement. Yes, that favorite topic that everyone talks about and no one can define. Much like the internet has proven a powerful tool for actually drawing a line between advertising and potential/actual sales (previously nebulous at best), the internet can provide numbers that actually measure engagement. But each company will have to define what that looks like and what sort of visitor behaviors actually count as engagement. Some might value comments left over number of links. Some the other way around. Some might not put much value on either but find something that is important to them and use that as a measure of success.
So yes, the page view is going to eventually be not as important as it once was. But there’s an awful lot of assumptions of corporate behavior and public education behind claiming that it will be gone by 2010. You might as well state that all blogs will be part of an organized social network by 2010. It’s rooted partly in recent precedent but it also discount any future innovations that might trump it.
This is just the latest in a series of changes that the corporate world will have to adjust to, a series that extends back to the invention of the printing press. As always it will be up to a few forward-thinking individuals to plot the course and lead others.