James Bromley, managing director of Mail Online, said yesterday online publishers needed to establish new industry benchmarks to more accurately reflect reader behaviour.
Speaking at the Audit Bureau of Circulations Interactivity forum in London, Bromley said digital publishers needed to look beyond the current industry standards and focus on user-interaction and time spent with particular brands.
Bromley said digital publishers lacked a ‘common currency’that accurately reflected how people spend their time online.
He said: “We need to look at what standards we apply beyond the click, beyond the impression, that measure where most people are spending their time. Conversations about engagement are critical and need to be focused on.”
Advertisers had already started measuring the value of users in different ways, he added, and online publishers needed to catch up.
He said: “To be frank we are a long way behind the buying sector where people are buying behavioural [ad slots], they are buying into very fragmented and segmented audiences.”
Bromley said changing user behaviour was not being accurately measured and newspaper websites, as a result, were not able to extract real value from their audiences.
Using figures from UKOM, Bromley said Mail Online now recorded 90 million clicks each month and that 14,000 comments were left on the site each day.
Every month, he added, users spent 348 years of “engagement” time with Mail Online.
Using current industry standards set by ABC, Mail Online was the most popular national newspaper website in February with a daily average of 2,265,623 unique browsers – 951,705 from the UK.
In addition to industry standard measurements, Bromley said, Mail Online was interested in creating and measuring “sticky content” that held users’ attention.
Despite the need to develop new measurement forms, he said he was ‘astonished’that newspaper publishers were still reticent to make public the number of visitors they generate each day from the UK.
Most newspaper groups publish global daily visitor numbers but only Mail Online makes its UK daily visitors total public.
Bromley said: “I have a bit of a bugbear, there is simply not enough disclosure in the industryâ€¦I find it astonishing that in 2010 there is such a small pool of disclosure about how many visitors come to sites from the UK on a daily basis.”