Morning inspiration for people who want smart KPIs.
Especially for digital, but also for other things: success is relative.
Read the whole thing.
If you’re in the business of convincing people to refine their objectives.
My many favorite points from the piece:
…If that’s happening, I frankly don’t give a shit if Instagram has more people looking at pretty pictures.
Of course, I am trivializing what Instagram is to many people. It’s a beautifully executed app that enables the creation and enjoyment of art, as well as human connection, which is often a good thing. But my rant had very little to do with it (or with Twitter). My rant was the result of increasing frustration with the one-dimensionality that those who report on, invest in, and build consumer Internet services talk about success.
…Will Oremus’s piece in Slate is the one I saw that didn’t just regurgitate the “bigger” headline. He does a great job of explaining why it’s not that simple. It’s worth a read, but the summary is this:
…our top-line metric is “TTR,” which stands for total time reading. It’s an imperfect measure of time people spend on story pages. We think this is a better estimate of whether people are actually getting value out of Medium…
…everyone is in a “war for attention.” But it uses unique visitors as the way to compare how different outlets are doing in this war…
We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content — where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly — it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time. After all, for a currency to be valuable, it has to be scarce.
Chartbeat’s Tony Haile has done a great job of promoting the idea of an “Attention Web” (as opposed to the “Click Web”). He’s hopeful a shift to measuring attention will improve the web:
For quality publishers, valuing ads not simply on clicks but on the time and attention they accrue might just be the lifeline they’ve been looking for. Time is a rare scarce resource on the web and we spend more of our time with good content than with bad.
The problem with time, though, is it’s not actually measuring value. It’s measuring cost as a proxy for value.
…As the writer of this piece, I don’t really want your time — I want to make an impression on how you think.
But taking people’s time isn’t really the goal. And people wasting time is actually the opposite of the goal.
This is the problem with any one-dimensional metric. As Jonah Peretti says, there’s no “God metric”:
I feel like what you see in the industry now is people jumping around and trying to find the God metric for content. It’s all about shares or it’s all about time spent or it’s all about pages or it’s all about uniques. The problem is you can only optimize one thing and you have to pick, otherwise all you’re doing is making a bunch of compromises if you try to optimize for multiple things.