That is a recurrent question being asked by some of my readers. Here is my answer.

Back in 1995, I wrote in the Dedication section of my doctoral thesis:

“If I have a theory, but no experimental results, I may have nothing. And if I have a theory without practical applications, I may have an artifact.”

So, don’t give your visitors hearsays, half-lies, or misrepresentation of facts found across the Web, but things that they can really test, use, and that solve a real or urgent problem for them. Don’t waste your time repeating interesting -perhaps catchy concepts-, but that at the end of the day are just useless.

In addition to textual and audiovisual content of good quality, give them TOOLS. However, provide tools that make them interact more time with your site and that authoritative pages will recommend or link to.

This is important because the amount of time spent by users in a site is directly correlated to several web metrics/analytics like:

  • frequency cap – restriction on the amount of time a specific visitor is shown a particular advertisement.
  • stickiness – the amount of time spent at a site over a given time period.
  • underdelivery – delivery of less impressions, visitors, or conversions than contracted for a specified period of time.
  • unique visitors – individuals who have visited a site (or network) at least once during a fixed time frame.
  • bandwidth – how much data (e.g., content, ads, creatives) can be transmitted in a time period over a communication channel, often expressed in kilobits per second (kbps). Data is any alphanumeric content. This includes parameters, variables or any text/pixel-based creative.

Other time-based metrics inherited from traditional media (TV, radio) and that are based on the time spent by users viewing a communication channel can be applied to web channels and sites; among others:

  • average audience – the average number of people who tuned into the given time selected and expressed in thousands or as a percentage (also known as a Rating) of thetotal potential audience of the demographic selected. It is also known as a T.A.R.P -Targeted Audience Rating Point.
  • channel share – the share one channel has of all viewing for a particular time period. The share, expressed as a percentage, is calculated by dividing the channel’s average audience by the average audience of all channels (PUTs) (It is held in higher esteem by networks than media buyers on a day to day basis and is only referred to by the latter group when apportioning budgets and evaluating a programme for sponsorship).
  • cummulative audience or reach – the total number of different people within the selected demographic who tuned into the selected time period for 8 minutes or more (i.e., reached at least once by a specific schedule or advertisement).
  • frequency – the average number of times that a person within the target audience has had the opportunity to see an advertisement over the campaign period.
  • time spent viewing or TVS – how many minutes/hours an audience has viewed a particular channel.

[Sources: WebSiteMagazine, WebMediaSolutions, NielsenMedia].

So, any tool that helps your visitors to wisely improve their time spent on your site -in an effective manner, of course- cannot hurt you. For this to be true, however, the tool provided must be engaging, useful, effortless, and with a minimum learning curve; otherwise the user experience of your visitors can be frustrating and a waste of time.