Useful study on metrics vs journalistic pride, but leaves out a key aspect: the sales guys – because this is how the money is made and the metrics are ultimately determined.

Time was, quality audiences would be worth more to advertisers than quantity. Why hasn’t online ad selling (and buying) caught up yet? Only when it does will there be incentive to move beyond page views and unique users as the key metric. Programmatic ad sales could be the answer, or could worsen the situation further – too early to tell.

Anyway, worth a read:

“Online media is made of clicks.

Readers click from one article to the next. Advertising revenue is based on the number of unique visitors for each site. Editors always keep in mind their traffic targets to secure the survival of their publications. Writers and bloggers interpret clicks as a signal of popularity.

The economic realities underpinning the click-based web are well documented. Yet much work remains to be done on the cultural consequences of the growing importance of Internet metrics.

I conducted two years of ethnographic research (observing newsrooms and interviewing journalists, editors, and bloggers) exploring whether web analytics are changing newsroom cultures. The answer is a qualified yes, but in ways that differ from the ones we might expect.”