Nielsen/NetRatings to Change Ratings System for Web Sites

By: E&P Staff

Research firm Nielsen/NetRatings announced that it will change its ratings system for Web sites, placing greater emphasis on the time viewers spend on Web sites rather than how many times a page is viewed, the Los Angeles Times reports today.

EMarketer Inc. senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson told the Times that the changes won?t necessarily affect advertising decisions so much as it will shift the way Web sites are structured. For instance, many newspaper Web sites split up long stories across multiple Web pages to increase page views; with the new Nielsen/Net Ratings plan, papers would have less
incentive to do so.

The shift in measurement comes as new technologies are advancing Web publishing, and making page views less relevant toward Web traffic
statistics. The Times mentions the software Ajax as one primary example; the program allows Web sites to display different parts of a Web page without refreshing the entire page.

Another example used is the mainstream use of streaming audio and video. Online media players are now able to automatically refresh content, instead of the viewer refreshing to a new page.

According to the new ratings system, Time Warner Inc.?s AOL rose to the top with 25 billion minutes spent online on the AOL Media Network during the month of May. The Times notes that this is largely due to the popularity of the AOL Instant Messenger program.

Yahoo also received a boost from the new ratings in May, with 19.6 billion minutes spent online.

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