AOL Top Web Site Under New Ranking

Nielsen/NetRatings plans to drop its old methods of counting pageviews to gauge Web site popularity, instead opting for a system where it would measure how long a user stays on a site.

With the changing scope of Web content, the old methods are quickly becoming less relevant. More important to advertisers and investors may be how long a user spends on a site, Nielsen seems to believe.

Technologies like AJAX and other dynamic page generation techniques lessen the need for a page to be refreshed, thus decreasing the number of recorded pageviews. Multimedia also carries the same effect.

Nielsen/NetRatings will begin reporting total sessions and total time spent on a site in order to figure out site popularity. From this, an advertiser could see how long a site is able to hold onto its users.

Using this method will shake up Web rankings quite a bit. For example, under the old system, AOL was sixth in pageviews. However, using the new system, it is number one with 25 billion minutes spent on its pages in May. The opposite happens to Google which drops to fifth from third using the new method.

Other Web ratings firms also have addressed the problems new technologies pose to metrics with their own systems. For example, comScore now defines its visits as the number of times a person returns to a site with at least a half-hour break between page loads.

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