Not really an interesting discussion, but it’s one I’ve been having way too often as of late: pageview paradigm or event paradigm?

Most web analytics software will only capture ‘pageviews’ unless you torture it. That is- the script will fire only when the page as a whole is loaded, with no additional information forked over about all the cool functionality that might exist once that page is loaded.

For most large websites, we go along with the old pageview paradigm out of pure monetary necessity. Any flash functionality, when tracked properly, is done through a separate account/ID tag so that we preserve the understandability of the main pageview account.

And then you get into the confusion with the second account, which measures ‘events’, and the first one, that measures ‘pageviews’, since both accounts are typically labeled as ‘pageviews’ only.

For the uninitiated, what’s the difference?

Let’s say I visit YouTube, and watch one of my favorite commercials:

and I visit YouTube and the whole bit. That would be counted as a ‘pageview’.

But let’s say that YouTube has actionscript that fires off the javascript that is linked to the web analytics software. Let’s say, when the movie gets past the 7800th frame, which might be the 1 minute mark, the tag fires, and attached to it is the word “15 second mark”, and since it’s on the Velveeta video page, we know that one visitor watched it for 15 seconds.

Well – that script getting fired isn’t another pageview, it’s an event. However, in most analytics tools, there’s no difference highlighted between a pageview and an event.

So, somebody looking at the wrong analytics account, who hasn’t been told any differently, might be led into believing that the number of pageviews on such an ‘event’ account are really inflated. Hilarity ensues is a separate account wasn’t possible, or there wasn’t a web analyst involved from the get-go (and I’m afraid, this is all too common).

It’s a problem that we in the Web Analytics Association know about, and the Standards Committee, I’m told, is fighting the good fight on our behalf.

In the meantime (cue Spacehog howl) we’ll continue to explain the difference between a custom event and a pageview. 🙂

I just wish we could get on with it already.