Name a metric, any metric, for measuring audience attention, and there is (a) a reason why it's useful; (b) a reason why it's worthless; and (c) a way for digital media companies to corrupt it.

Page views (e.g.: clicks) used to be the most common currency of online attention, only to be replaced by unique visitors (e.g.: readers). But in the viral age, "readers" doesn't mean what it used to mean. If you were a newspaper in the 1980s, readers = subscribers who receive your bundle of paper each morning. In a bookmarked-site world, readers meant Web visitors who drop by a few days a month at most. But in the viral age, readers can mean 1 million Facebook users who see some sensational headline, clicked it, and scurried away, having no recollection of what URL hosted the article, and never visit the site again.

Comments
Add Comment