The web is becoming saturated. It’s no longer the pimply faced 20 somethings living in their mom’s basements that are the key users and the source of most of the traffic on the web. Now you have communities for pregnant moms, sites for elderly widows looking to date, and social sites for kids from the time they’re able to talk. So now that the web is hitting its saturation point of types of people interacting it becomes a critical issue to take advantage of those users and get them to do more.
Up until this point it’s been about getting more users, more people, that easily translated into more hits of course. But now what people want is richer engagement, they want users to be active, then to contribute the content. When users are more active it means just as many hits, but more engagement is a harder issue than more users. More users usually meant more marketing budget and a piece of allowing the market to mature. More engagement means you actually have to be more methodical about what you’re doing. It means you have to more closely balance the quality of what is one your site versus how you manage the ad’s which equate to revenue.
The news that facebook is exposing how many impressions a page gets versus the amount of feedback has been received is a driver in this direction. Fortunately for facebook, they don’t have control over Fan Pages so it’s not their job to drive up engagement on a per page basis. Unfortunately for other major publishers this is a very unscientific science, and what works and doesn’t work can only be a result of trying out new options. There’s a lot of opportunity here for those that really figure out what key drivers are of engagement, it’s one thing to measure it, it’s another to be able to readily define out to improve it, and no one has repeatedly done that on the web yet.