While the silent avalanche of online sweeping over print that has overtaken many MSM publishers in the past two years continues, another equally dramatic shift is hanging over online itself, threatening a publishing model that has sustained the business for the last decade.
I speak of the pageview, that holy measurement that combined with unique visitors represents the canon of reach and popularity among publishers and marketers.
In the vaunted world of Web 2.0, the pageview is dead, done in first by the search driven behavior of users who avoid branded-browsing (typing in URLs and flocking to known sites) and do rifle-shots based on keyword and keyphrase-driven "need" sessions; and now by the "Tivofication" of the online experience thanks to RSS.
Matt McAlister, the online GM at InfoWorld, has sounded the alarm that old online models of building audience and attempting to build pages viewed per sesssion from 2 to 3, to beyond is at risk thanks to the user-aggregated time shifting brought on by RSS and podcasting.
While RSS advertising is at its infancy — think of the days when HotWired started serving 468×60 banners in ’95 — publishers need to start freaking out now, not later, and give up any shred of hubris that they will be able to build audiences within their sites.
The implications of this sift from building pages to building streams is huge, and will have a big ripple-down effect on infrastructure from content management to measurement.
The fact that InfoWorld is now pushing all of its content down the RSS pipe is an indication of McAlister’s conviction that the avalanche is ready to start rolling.