Online advertising purchased by the per-thousand “page-view” is, in my opinion (and many others), an anachronistic notion.* Yet it is still the way most non-search online advertising (“display”) is sold. So, as long as “page views” are the way online display advertising is sold, you’re going to see web publishers doing all they can to get you to click around their sites as much as possible. Some of their attempts to do this serve a good purpose — like recommending relevant content, background information or comments from other readers. But many of the page-view inflation tricks are down-right abusive to readers and viewers.
One of the worse: The “slide show” list.
Last night, search zen-master Danny Sullivan ripped apart the “top-whatever” list-that’s-not-a-list that some magazine websites seem addicted to — (especially Time.com and Forbes.com).
Here’s the problem: Rather than “list” the list, the sites make you click through page after page to learn who is included on the “list.” So, the focus of Danny’s rant, “Time.com’s Top 25 Weblogs List” requires a viewer to click through 25 “page views.” I made it through three, so congratulations to anyone who may have been on clicks 4-25.
As Danny notes, such schemes may churn up views, but they abuse the reader and are invitations to others to legitimately (meaning, to do so in a non-copyright infringing way) curate the website’s content. (Let me explain more clearly for those who may not understand what I’m saying: create a blog post and call it: Time list of 25 top weblogs and list them with links to each.)
Rexblog flashback: My humorous prediction for 2008 magazine industry developments included this one: “Magazine websites will no longer be measured by page-views, allowing Forbes.com (and others) to stop using pageview-inflating ‘slide shows.'”
*Some of the most compelling web content (video, for instance) can engage a user for long periods of time, yet impede their ability to click around your site generating lots of page views. More importantly, “page views” imply all views are equal. In reality, it’s not important how many eyeballs see your ad, it’s how many people who buy your product. If a website can consistently deliver buyers who are shopping specifically for your product, you’ll forget you’ve ever heard the term “page view.”