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Maybe publisher cooperation is a path forward for news, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of public media
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Oct. 9, 2013, 12:13 p.m.
LINK: brianabelson.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   October 9, 2013

We know pageviews mean nothing — and yet media types still think about them all the time. That’s the premise of Knight-Mozilla fellow Brian Abelson’s new, well-worth-reading essay “Whither the Pageview Apocalypse?”

Abelson argues that we talk about the death of pageviews without changing our behaviors because the web analytics industry, to which publishers and advertisers are beholden, has carefully scripted a narrative in which the pageview is burned up — and that from its ashes, new metrics rise for them to control.

Yet, having experimented with many “actionable”, rather than “vanity metrics,” I can tell you that their results are often just as murky and misleading. Engagement is a moving target; A/B tests, when poorly designed, often produce inconclusive results; event tracking, while incredibly powerful, does not readily enable comparisons across varied contexts. And, even when these tools are utilized to their full potential, it can be very difficult to translate their insights into action. The fact of the matter is that there are no silver bullets, no secrets to be revealed just beyond the pageview. All there is is hard work, open dialogue, and relentless experimentation to find what works in your particular context. After all, we’re talking about measuring the complex behaviors of millions of people.

The takeaway: Be wary of any pronouncement of something’s total destruction. Apocalyptic narratives can be cleansing and relieving, but they rarely address the nuances of a disruption.

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