Monday, November 6, 2006

Web 2.0 Measurement Working Group

This week-end I really experienced for the first time the power of social networking. I submitted my point of view entitled "Google growing larger than Microsoft?" to Digg and within hours, my site traffic skyrocketed to about 40 times its usual traffic. The post made the top 10 ranks of the Tech Industry News for November 6th.

From an analytical standpoint, this is interesting for many reasons:
  • I got a huge increase in traffic, but it turned out to be narrowed to that single post. There was a 84% bounce rate on that post, clearly reflecting the way people use services such as Digg: get an interesting newsbit, scan it (and sometimes read it!), and get out. At least, that's the way I'm using Digg, Technorati, Reddit and even Google Reader.
  • My page view/visit ratio went down from over 4 to barely over 1. If I had a visit/conversion KPIs, they would be totally out of control.
  • The average attention span on that post was slightly over 2 minutes, which is barely enough to scan this long article and focus on the most interesting paragraphs.
With the number of people blogging and competing to get their share of attention, simply measuring blog traffic with Google Analytics is certainly not enough, and making the long run to get the stats out of every tools is tedious, if even possible. Casual bloggers faces the same data convergence challenge company do: how to retrieve value out of disseminated interaction points stocked in heterogeneous systems, in different formats, and different units of measure?

This boils down to the fact that measuring page views is not enough. We need to start thinking in terms of "significant user event", be it an RSS read, social network posts and their ratings, a specific user action within a page or more conventionally allowing some of our attention for reading a page or looking at a product. And thats where the "Web 2.0 Measurement Working Group" can contribute: what should be measured, and how?

In this respect, measuring "Attention", as defined by Beck & Davenport, might be a good path to investigate.