Page Views, Unique Visitors and Online Advertising

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I was recently asked to discuss the difference between unique visitors and page views and whether there is a benefit of one to the other.

First, some quick definitions:
*A unique visitor is counted once for each IP address that visits your website during a certain amount of time. It does not always equal a unique individual (if you read this at work and then at home then you would be counted as unique twice because of the different IPs). Unique visitors are typically measured per day and per month.

*A page view or impression is generated every time a visitor refreshes the page or visits a new page within your blog or website.  Multiple pageviews can be generated by the same unique visitor.

The reason page views are important is because the longer you can keep someone on your site with interesting, relevant content, the more apt they are to either click on your banner ads or subscribe, giving you permission to put your content in front of them in the future. 

Blogs that have high amounts of page views often have deeper placed content for their readers to explore: forums for brides to chat with each other or vendor directories that are four or five clicks in, with each click generating a new page. With this strategy, one unique visitor could easily generate over 50-100 page views in one session. One note of caution if you are considering this method: be careful to not bury content so deep into your blog that people give up on clicking and close your site window instead.

Online ads are typically charged per CPM or cost per one thousand impressions (M being the Roman numeral for 1000) whether a blog reader clicks on the ad or not.  This means that the more page views a website or blog can generate, the more ad revenue they can generate for themselves.  This can also be good for the advertiser depending on their marketing strategy, because it means that their ad is in front of eyes more often, even if they are the same eyes.  

The future viability of the CPM model is a hot topic right now in social media and online advertising circles and the subject of much debate (which I'll discuss in another post).  In my opinion, there are marketing strategies where purchasing a CPM banner ad makes sense and others where it does not.  It really all comes down to what your specific business goals are and what results you need the ad to produce for you. 

If your goal with advertising is to generate client contracts with brides, then a blog that attracts a large portion of vendors as well as engaged couples may not be the best place to focus your ad dollars because the clicks generated are more likely not going to be qualified leads.  Your marketing budget is probably better spent on a blog that receives lower visitor numbers but is more targeted to your market and has a higher conversion rate of ad clicks to closed sales.  However, if your goal is to generate recognition for your brand so that other professionals in the wedding industry say "yes, we've heard of them", then paying for a CPM based ad on a more highly trafficked blog could be a very effective strategy for you.

Do you currently take page views or unique visitor numbers into account for your advertising? Which one shows better results for you?

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