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A new study by Nielsen/NetRatings examines the top UK websites using three different metrics - page impressions, visitors, and time spent. It concludes that the page view is becoming less relevant, a mantra we're hearing increasingly often.

The report argues that the growth of Web 2.0 sites, and the different ways that users are interacting with social media means that advertisers are looking beyond the page impression as a way to measure user behaviour.

The top sites by page impression are:

  • Google, with 3.8bn
  • eBay - 3.7bn
  • Yahoo - 2bn
  • Facebook has most page impressions per UK visitor
  • Bebo is next on 436, followed by eBay on 256

Top sites by visits are:

  • Google - 431m
  • MSN/Windows Live - 221m
  • Yahoo - 178m
  • Google has 16.8 visits per visitor, MSN has 12.7, while Facebook has 12.2

Most engaging UK sites (by time spent on site):

  • eBay - 27.9m hours spent
  • Google - 21.8m hours
  • MSN/Windows Live - 15.7m hours
  • RuneScape - 6 hours 32 mins per visitor
  • EA Online - 3h 7m
  • Bebo - 2h 37m

Games-related sites accounted for four of the top seven sites by time per visitor, yet none of these sites were in the top 50 for page views - Nielsen analyst Alex Burmaster argues that users engage with these sites in a way that is closer to TV, and that time spent is becoming more of a factor for advertisers.

According to Burmaster:

"As the technology that publishers use to deliver content to the user moves away from static, reloaded pages to more streamlined content – e.g. online videos - the page-view is becoming a less relevant gauge of where might be the best place to advertise online."

"Consequently advertisers will have to look at other metrics, such as time spent or visits, to see where their online ad pound might be best spent.”

Certainly, time spent on a website is a useful metric when looking at how users interact with a site, but it does have its drawbacks.

It doesn't take account of time spent on RSS feeds for instance, and stats could be skewed if a user simply goes away from their PC or laptop and leaves a site open on their browser.

That said, no metric is perfect - unique visitors, the most reliable method at the moment, still has its inaccuracies. A recent comScore study found that cookie deletion was inflating visitor stats by as much as 150%.

Further Reading:
Measuring Web 2.0 – The death of the page impression

Graham Charlton

Published 19 April, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


Laurent Nicolas, Alenty

Good news, at last!
It is funny to note that the metrics that is used for measuring time is the number of hours (in millions).

In this example, pages are in billions, and hours in millions. My conclusion is that it is not a problem to deal with billions. So, the above figures could be written in minutes, instead of hours.

Why minutes? Why do I insist on this?

Because it is a way to prepare the market to the next step: communicating on (b/m)illions of minutes, instead of (b/m)illions of pages. When the advertising industry moves to time spent, the metrics for ad-impressions will certainly be the minute. Adservers will refresh ads every minute.

Why? Because it is simple to understand! This site has 1 billion minutes per month, so it serves 1 billion ads a month.

over 9 years ago


Colin Wee

Eyeballs and page views got dot-com businesses so excited they kept those statistics close to their heart. I never did understand the rationale to generalise the need for eyeballs across all sectors or businesses. Time spent per page seems much more valid as an index to measure marketing effectiveness. I assume there needs to be a benchmark 'sweet spot' for time spent. Last thing we want is for viewers to use the website as an information resource than as a transactional resource.

about 9 years ago


Diane Abramson


I am trying to determine what the "average time spent" on a B2B webstie is.

Do you have any additional information on this topis of research?

Thanks very much,

Diane Abramson

Diane Abramson
Manager, Marketing
Electronic Media
The Deal, LLC
105 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 313-9397

about 8 years ago

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