How would you count a pageview?

stats

In my day job, I work, among other things, with numbers and stats. That makes me interested in the stats space at large and I often watercooler-discuss what counts as a pageview with my colleagues. Which isn’t quite as simple as it might sound at first. Disclaimer: the following is merely the product of my own observations and musings. No opinions presented here represent those of the company I work for.

So, you type in an address and wait for the page to load. That’s one pageview. Right?

Well, what if you were browsing Google with the new Chrome prefetching technology; your browser might load the page in full without you ever seeing it. Is that a pageview? How about unique visitors… what if you reload a page, is that one or two pageviews? What about an AJAX powered photo gallery that loads inline, does each photo count as a pageview? And what about infinitely scrolling pages? Do they count as a single pageview or as an arbitrary number of views based on the length scrolled or time on the site?

As you can imagine, there are numerous ways to interpret these mechanisms and some boost pageviews quite a bit. Considering ad-revenue or measurements of overall service popularity is sometimes tied to number of pageviews, stats are bound to be all over the map depending on who you ask.

I don’t presume to have the end-all be-all answer to how pageviews should be counted, there are legitimate challenges here. As the web evolves beyond pages and hyperlinks, the way to count statistics is bound to change. Perhaps in the future it will make more sense to count unique views correlated with time on site as a measure of success? I don’t know, but it seems to me it would be sensible for there to be an independant standard for pageview-count best practices. Like with organic food, you could slap a sticker on your stats package and proclaim the principles with which you count pageviews. I can see this being in advertisers interest as well; I mean why not put your money where the pageviews give the most bang for your buck?