English articles, Media, Top Tasks

Don’t measure success with session time

For display advertising on the web, the main measurement is still page views and returning viewers. These means don’t work in the ever more important social media. Session time comes back. Will the advertising world invent right effectiveness measuring?

Page views are easy to measure. That many adds shown, that many clicks, and you have your basic stats. And your conversion and return on investment.

In social media things are different. The advertiser can try to get reactions on tweets and via Facebook and measure. But the audience holds the steering wheel and doesn’t necessarily drive in the wanted direction. Consumers augment content through the social media, but that extra can be as negative as positive.

The new metric should be how many react, said Katrina Dodd of Contagious, and how much time they then spend with the brand. Especially on the second screen, this seems to be important now – meaning: looking at a second advertiser, paying attention to a second brand, not necessarily the same as on the tv screen.

At the IAB Think Digital conference in Brussels today, Dodd cited the example of a succesful Coca Cola campaign that resulted in 9 million people logging in from their second screen to an average 28 minutes session while watching the Super Bowl. Amazing number, and an amazing nearly half hour of extra consumer attention to the brand.

But is long session time good? Do we know what people were doing in that half hour?

There are still people out there who believe that long session time on their website is a good thing. Usually it is not. Usually this means that the user doesn’t find the solution to the task he came for in the first place. You need to have a time-to-task benchmark in order to interpret the session time measurement.

And now there comes session time again as a measure. Surely, 9 million people paying their attention to the brand is enormous. And we can only hope that they enjoyed their experience.

But we basically don’t know. Session length is no way to measure web success. Maybe in entertainment, if you want your audience to view a movie or play a game.

However, usual advertising wants conversion, wants people to act, to buy, to register and so on. And then short session times are better. Then people are on a task journey and want it done as quick as possible. Because they want to move to their next task, whatever that is, online or offline.

You better measure the outcome, the result of the action, not the views and the session time.


About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.



  1. Pingback: Mooi webdesign is niet de basis voor tevreden klanten « Toon Lowette – Netspanning - 12 September 2012

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