Dumb Idea of the Day

In online media, we are continually looking at ways to measure our audience and gauge consumption.  The idea of the “pageless” web is not new…and is starting to take hold as we embed more ajax technology to surface headlines, refresh content, etc.  Thus, the standard flagbearer, the page view, is becoming less relevant as an indicator of consumption on our site.  Less pages are turned as content is automatically surfaced.  Unique users is still a fine gauge on how many people visit in a given time period (e.g. a month is the common standard now…but presumably as we hyper target ads and create mini sites..that period of time will also wither away and become less relevant…but I digress).

If I were to apply this thought exercise to search, what if there was a search engine the ranked sites based on the amount of time a user spent on a site as the relative value of that site vis a vis other sites.  Ie instead of the number of sites that point to a given page to increase its “page rank”, what if the ranking on a search query was based on (a) how long the page was opened (ie time spent) when a user looked at it (average or gross), or (b) visits….how many times a day a user returned to read content/listen to a video/etc (for ex: i go to drudge 3-5x a day on big news days vs NYT.com where I may spend 10-15 minutes in the morning reading a long form article). 

Which is a better prognosticator of usage and therefore “importance” to others?  

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