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section heading icon     net metrics jargon

This page looks at metrics jargon.

It covers -

subsection heading icon     introduction

As Donna Hoffman & Thomas Novak demonstrate in their exemplary paper 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 August 2001.

subsection heading icon     definitions

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. 

Auditor - 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 dynamic delivery.

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 chain

See also page views.

- 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 software

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 between users.

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version of March 2007
© Bruce Arnold
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