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Do we want to measure time spent?

Andy Beal and Bryan Eisenberg are both asking good questions about the new “time spent” metrics that Neilsen/Netratings is introducing. Andy wants to know how time spent is calculated (good question) while Bryan assumes that it is time spent in the browser and asks more good questions. Are we missing the boat on metrics here?


I think so.
“Time spent’ is an attempt to treat Web viewing the same as TV viewing, but I think that’s misguided. We don’t measure the time spent watching TV shows because it is a good measurement, but rather because it is all we have. We’re far better off modeling Web metrics around a direct marketing approach that counts the number of impressions made by a message, along with the number of times the reader selected that message and eventually converted.
I talked about this in a Biznology newsletter a few months back, and I still think it’s the right way to think about measurement. The problem with measurements is that we use different ones for every tactic, instead of unifying online marketing metrics so that everyone understands them. Using the direct marketing approach makes our marketing a lot more measurable than trying to equate “time spent” into some kind of business value that CEOs understand. “Time spent” is just marketers talking to other marketers. We need to do better.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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