My 1 Billionth Page Impression
It suprises me how fast and advanced our industry moves but how dumb metrics continue to grab headlines, with MySpace being probably the biggest offender (although SecondLife has been the one to be beaten up). In 1997 domain names was a boom industry and we'd frequently boast of no. of domains registered, which in reality was a one dimensional metric of little use. But the media and the markets bought it.
In the bubble days of 99/2000 monthly unique users and registered subscribers were the currency to value online businesses.
Now in 2007, you would think, we're looking at growth rates, subscriber churn, active/inactive customers, cpm's, time on site, single access ratios...
Not so. Social network sites continue to evade the metrics which we would all like to know.
SecondLife got what is technically known as a 'kicking' when it broke the 2m subscriber mark late last year. With commentators asking all the questions on active users,etc. But SecondLife are the small guys, the innovators in this space.
MySpace with 160m users or Facebook with 35m, is like Amazon talking of the number of sign-ups it has had, ever. Not ARPU. Not growth in average basket size. Not Purchase Frequency.
For the social networks, how many of these big user figures are active in the last 90 days? To follow EU data-protection acts dormant data over 2 years old should be deleted anyway, but that's another story. GigaOm-Hitwise managed to pull some metrics together but they still offer little insight.
I have a hunch that specialist sites like DeviantArt.com, SecondLife.com, last.fm, webjay.com are going to come out pretty well when indexed against the big guys for things like % active, frequency and depth of visit.
So why is this important? Well, from an advertising/marketing point of view the number of genuine, hard-core, active, passionate users is significantly more valuable to an advertiser than a mass of passing traffic. The advertising industry doesn't see it this way yet, but in time it probably will.
This is the long-tail of Social Networks. And it is a distributed web of small vibrant communities.