Nielsen//NetRatings Tweaking Web Tracking Technologies

Posted Jul 9, 2007

A press release was sent out stating that Nielsen//NetRatings[1], a solid source for online page view measurements, will halt monitoring user activity based on page views and will now focus the length of time spent. The official announcement by the company is expected to be made tomorrow. What this means is that because of today’s web technologies, web traffic rating and measurement companies need to start reconsidering the criteria set on determining which web sites are more popular than others.

The biggest example of such technologies is AJAX. AJAX is a technology in which users can take actions on particular websites without having to be redirected to multiple pages. Digg is an excellent example of such technology use. On the homepage of Digg, users can “digg” stories and a vote will be accumulated, all without having to leave
Also, every story that is submitted on Digg has its own individual page where more AJAX is implemented:

Clicking on the Comments, Who Dugg or Blogged It?, Blog It, and Email It tabs do not require a user to be redirected to another page.

“Based on everything that’s going on with the influx of Ajax and streaming, we feel total minutes is the best gauge for site traffic,” stated Scott Ross, Director of Product Marketing at Nielsen. “We’re changing our stance on how the data should be” used.

AOL LLC and Yahoo! Inc. also benefits from the upcoming changes by Nielsen//NetRatings. Nielsen will credit both services with the time spent on their messenger platforms. About 25 billion minutes was spent AOL Instant Messenger and 20 billion minutes were spent on Yahoo! Messenger service this past May.

Alexa Internet Inc., a subsidiary company of Amazon Inc. is also known for web monitoring that accounts for traffic solely based on users that have the Alexa Toolbar product installed. Will this new initiative by Nielsen pressure Alexa to tweak their tweaking technologies as well? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

[2] Alexa: About the Alexa Traffic Rankings
[3] Associated Press: Nielsen scraps Web page view rankings (via Yahoo! News)