With Nielsen sounding the death knell for page views as a valid measurement, the next question is what happens to advertising.
Nielsen recently ditched page views in favor of counting only unique users and time spent. So let’s assume those metrics become the basis for future advertising models.
Solutions start to look more like print. In the newspaper, multiple ads are delivered to a single subscriber. Advertisers pay for access to X number of people. In truth, they pay even if Joe Schmoe never reads the page with their ad. The Web can be more accurate.
Like in the newspaper, multiple ads can be served to a single person. But unlike the newspaper, the advertiser would be charged only when a user actually reads a page with their ad on it.
The CPM rate changes from one based on cost per thousand page views to cost per thousand unique users. For example, if you charge a $20 CPM and 1,000 people see the banner, then the site just made $20. Serve ads with each new page view and then track how many uniques see that ad.
Or take the other road and sell based on time spent. If two users are on the site from 1 p.m. until 1:10 p.m., then each has spent 10 minutes, for a total of 20 minutes in ad inventory. What’s being sold essentially becomes a surround session, which is proven more effective as a branding campaign than regular means for ad serving.
I know of no ad-serving system prepared to work within either of these models. Someone better get moving. Nielsen won’t be the last group to stop counting page views. Next come advertisers.