lies & spin
page looks at metrics jargon.
It covers -
As Donna Hoffman & Thomas Novak demonstrate in their
on Metrics Terminology,
the terminology used by online marketers is confusing,
unstable and inconsistent.
In the US the Interactive
Advertising Bureau released a comprehensive list
of standard definitions for the online, wireless and interactive
television industries during October 2001. The listing
reflects a recognition of advertiser concern about disagreement
regarding ad impressions, unique users, clicks, total
visits and page impressions.
Similar standards work by Australia's Internet Industry
Association and local advertising groups took place in
The following glossary is
not comprehensive or definitive. It is a response to requests
by some of our clients or their contacts for explanations
of particular terms.
- a company that verifies advertisements went online and
site statistics or a site's proprietary reporting systems.
Auditors include Arbitron and AC Nielsen. Some specialist
companies now act as counters, ie enumerating site, page
and advertisement deliveries.
Banner - an advertisement that links
to an advertiser's site or a buffer page (generally hosted
by the site on which the advertisement is running).
Button - a small advertisement that links
to an advertiser's site or a buffer page. They are generally
used for sponsorships or downloadable products.
Clicks - the number of times a user clicks
a banner or other advertisement.
Click rate - the percentage of impressions
that result in clicks. Sometimes referred to as the click
through or response rate.
Conversion - shifting a visitor's response
from viewing to action, eg the relationship between viewing
an advertising banner on a site and buying the advertising
product/service or inquiring about it.
Cookie - software used to identify a
specific visitor to a site. (For more information see
the Privacy guide)
CPM - cost per mille, the total cost
of 1,000 visitor requests to view an advertisement, ie
the cost for 1,000 impressions.
Dynamic rotation - delivery
of advertisements 'on the fly', either on a random basis
or targeted at particular visitors who are identified
by cookies or other technology. Dynamic rotation lets
different users see a different ad on a specific page,
and allows ads to be seen in more than one place on a
site. Advertisements can be dynamically rotated throughout
an entire site or within a given section. Also called
Eyeballs - the number of unique users
of/visitors to a site
Hardwired - advertisements in a fixed
position on a particular page and delivered each time
the page is accessed (the opposite of dynamic rotation).
Hit - every element of a requested page
(including text, graphics, and interactive items) is counted
as a hit to a server. Hits are not the preferred unit
of site-traffic measurement because the number of hits
per page varies widely. Figures about hits are problematical:
some studies suggest an 'average page' involves six hits
(eg text plus five images), others suggest the 'average'
is fifteen hits (text plus 14 images).
Interpretation of hits is contested. One US consultancy
thus claims that
While of little intrinsic value for marketing analysis,
hits act as the phytoplankton for the e-customer intelligence
ecosystem. Hits are the bottom of the e-metrics food
See also page views.
Impression - the number of times a page (or an
online advertisement such as a banner) is requested by
a visitors' browser and presumably seen by the visitor.
Some commercial sites market on the basis of guaranteed
impressions, eg the minimum times a banner will be seen
as the user navigates through the site.
Page - data available on the web and
identified with an URL. You are viewing a discrete page;
this site consists of around 900 pages. A page often contains
text plus images, ie comprises several data files, each
of which constitute a 'hit' when retrieved by a browser
Page views or page deliveries
- the number of times a web page is requested. Page views,
not hits, are often the preferred counting method for
site-traffic estimates and measurement.
Request - a connection to a site (ie
hit) that successfully retrieves content. Unlike a hit,
a request doesn't include client or server 'errors'
Response rate - the percentage of impressions
that result in clicks. Also called the click rate.
Server - device that is connected to
the internet and provides access to web pages or other
content when requested by a browser, a gopher or other
Session - the duration of a user's visit
to a site or the time spent continuously online
Unique users - the number of different
individuals visiting a site within a specific period.
Sites often use identifiers such as cookies to differentiate
next page (sources)