Come On Nick, You Can Do Better Than That

Choire Sicha, former editor of Gawker and now co-founder of The Awl, points out that the Gawker offices have a large screen mounted on the wall that shows the top most-read stories on the site in terms of unique visitors, allegedly to motivate writers at the blog network (although it’s interesting to note that this screen is described as being in the reception area rather than where the writers can see it). Gawker also posts its top-read stories in terms of both pageviews and unique visitors, which is an interesting page to watch.

That said, however, pageviews and even unique visitors are only a couple of the factors that media entities need to be concerned about — as I tried to argue in this post (check the bottom for recent updates), based on the Twitter debate between Reuters writer Felix Salmon and Business Insider founder Henry Blodget — and neither one of them is arguably the most important. Yes, they are the metrics with the largest numbers, and so they impress some advertisers and possibly some competitors. But they are also subject to inflation by girls kissing and slideshows, as Felix noted in the tweet that started his battle with Blodget.

Denton says he agrees that pageviews and uniques aren’t the best measures, and asks for others that are better. Okay, Nick — what about time spent with a story? Why not put that up on a big-screen TV on the wall? What about the number of repeat visitors that a writer gets over a month? Or what about the number of comments on a story, multiplied by the number of times a writer actually responds? Gawker is one of the most forward-thinking sites on the Web when it comes to comments and how they are managed, and from what I have seen their writers — particularly Denton himself — are good about responding. That’s a far better metric of value in my books.

Soon, advertisers will realize that chasing after raw pageviews and
big unique visitor numbers is a mug’s game, and one that Demand Media
and Associated Content and similar content factories will win every
time
— and arguably many advertisers are already realizing this,
which is why CPMs generally suck. So what starts to matter more?
Engagement. Admittedly, it’s difficult to measure (let alone define),
but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

Update: In a tweet to me, Nick says that comments are “a horribly misleading measure, e.g. commenter delight at a blog squabble is inversely related to wider appeal.”

Mahendra Palsule also has a thoughtful post about the move from number-based metrics such as pageviews and CPMs to relevance-based measurement and tools.

Coke: Still unclear on the concept

After the amazing Diet Coke-Mentos video from the guys at Eepybird.com exploded onto the scene thanks to YouTube (and later Revver), there was a sharp divide between the reaction from Mentos and Coca-Cola. The Italian company that makes Mentos saw it as free advertising and immediately wanted to do something with the Eepybird team — saying they probably got $10-million worth of free viral advertising from the clip. Coke effectively looked down its nose and sniffed.

diet coke

A little while ago I wrote that Coke appeared to have finally grabbed a clue, because they were involved in an online contest with the Eepybird guys (also on Revver, as someone from the video site points out in my comments). As it turns out, though, it sounds more like they were dragged kicking and screaming (or whining) into clue-land, according to this story at MediaPost.

John Stichweh, director of global interactive marketing, cast doubt on whether the company thinks engagement is a goal worth pursuing. The measurement that really matters, he said, is sales. “How many more cases of Coke am I selling? I don’t know,” he said at the Ad:Tech conference in New York.

According to the story, the Coke exec also questioned whether doing interactive or “user-generated” advertising was any cheaper than a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in traditional media, saying that online campaigns are cheaper up front but “there is a cost element in terms of internal labor.”

I guess he’s got a point — if by “internal labor” you mean paying someone to run around at headquarters pulling people’s heads out of the sand and showing them how to click on the “most popular” link at YouTube.