Steve Rubel has posted a post titled The Imminent Demise of the Page View which puts into words a conversation that I’ve been hearing an increasing amount of publishers talk (and worry about).
The crux of it is that with the rise of pages using Flash and Ajax pages are refreshing less and less and with it the importance of the ‘page view’ as a metric for measuring the success of a page is lessening.
This has a number of implications. For starters it’ll be harder to brag about how many views your blog gets over a beer at the next blog meet up. But more important than this – the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ad will become less and less popular to publishers.
For example – check out Popsugar’s live comments page that automatically shows readers the latest comments on their network. In the coming months we’ll see more and more of this type of page (in fact it’s quite a basic version of what we’ll see in the coming year). Similarly blogs are starting to experiment with ajax comments that post comments to a blog without the need for a page refresh. More and more of this type of feature will appear on blogs – in each case the page view potentially becomes less important and monetization them becomes a little more challenging.
While I’ve heard a few publishers lamenting this and even going as far to say that they are thinking of getting out of web publishing as a result – I don’t think all hope is lost for a number of reasons:
The rise of CPA ads – even over the last few months we’ve seen an increase in the options for ‘Cost per Action’ ads. Google is testing in the area and other ad networks are doing quite well with them. Advertisers like them too as they don’t pay for clicks that don’t convert into some measurable action.
New Ad Systems – I predict that we’ll see advertising networks start experimenting with new ways of displaying ads that will adapt with the non refreshing page environments that web users will demand. I’m not sure what systems we’ll see but perhaps it’s time for CPS ads (cost per second) or Ajax Auto refreshing Ads…. or perhaps CPM ads will simply adapt and start paying more to compensate publishers for the lower numbers of ads.
Non Refreshing Pages as Valuable Real Estate? – as I write this post I also wonder whether popular pages that don’t refresh will actually become more valuable in the eyes of advertisers. To be able to dominate and monopolize a page like Popsugar and have your message shown for long periods of time could actually become something that an advertiser will be willing to pay a significant amount of money for. Perhaps such ad positions will be sold for set periods of time. While I don’t have ajaxy pages on any of my blogs I do know that advertisers like Canon and Adobe have paid me great money to have total run (for months at a time) of the banner position on my photography blog at different times – perhaps we’ll see more of these types of deals.
Lastly – I suspect that more and more advertisers won’t be as interested in CPM ads anyway. With the rise of CPA and CPC ads where they only pay for the ad when the reader takes some action towards them I suspect the sweeping CPM system will appeal to less and less advertisers.
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t really know how it’ll happen – but I’m pretty confident that while page views will lessen (they won’t disappear and I doubt it’ll happen as quickly as some say) that between CPA ads and other new emerging ad technologies that it’s probably not time to jump ship on online publishing!