Dear New York Times, I really do appreciate your attempt, day in, day out, to bring clarity to a complex world. I know it isn’t easy, especially with the disruptions the Internet has brought to your sector (and many others). While you may have enjoyed a historical role as a paper of record, the Internet has positioned agile alternatives just one click away from you. Identifying successful funding models in such an environment hasn’t been exactly easy, especially when it seems to easy to view your product/service as a commodity, at least when it comes to national and international news.
The Embarrassing Misuse of Hits
Certainly the measurement of hits can be useful to the technical staff who have to perform server capacity planning or improve page loading times.
But the term hits is completely useless as a measure to indicate the success of a web initiative.
Indeed, when most people, including Journals, banter about the term hits, they usually are really referring to a different measure, such as pages viewed by users or to the number of visitors a site received in a specific time frame. The problem is that we, the poor reader, don’t really know which measure the Journalist is really referring to. I sadly suspect the Journalist doesn’t know, either.
hits: How Idiots Track Success (But it doesn’t have to be this way!)
Fortunately, the solution is rather simple. Just add the layman’s definition of hits, how idots track success, to the paper’s editorial style book. That should force the hard question: what we really mean to communicate with this statistic? As for the definitions of pages, visits and other digital measurement terminology? The Web Analytics Association has a guide for that, and is working on definitions for social media measurement.
- Social media measurement and an example, this SEO Blog
- Use events to track 404 page not found errors in Google Analytics
- Tracking Search Engine Cache Page Views with Web Analytics
- BLVD Status Analytics in free public beta test
- Blog statistics with BlogBabel at ZenaCamp in Genoa, Italy