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By the Project For Excellence In Journalism and the Pew Internet & American Life Project



Page Views: The number of times a single page of a website is viewed.  This is calculated by the number of times that particular page is loaded from the server. If a user hits refresh on a page, it counts as a page view.

Unique Audience (Visitors): The number of unique individuals, not including webcrawlers, that view a website in a given time frame (normally in a month).  This is calculated several different ways by different measurement services, see analysis below.  The most effective way to measure this is by making users log in to a site every time they use it; however, since most sites do not require a log-in, the most prevalent way to measure this is through the use of tracking cookies. 

Cookies: Cookies are small text files that are placed on users’ browsers when they visit a website.

Session (Visit): A session is a continuous series of URL requests, running applications or AOL proprietary online service page requests. Logging off or 30 minutes of computer inactivity ends a session. (Differs slightly from a Visit, which only considers URL requests.) (From Nielsen Online)

Sessions (Visits) per Person: The average number of sessions a single visitor has at one site in a given time period.  This figure is calculated by taking the total number of sessions to a site in a given time period, and dividing it by the number of unique visitors.

Web Pages per Session (Visit): The average number of pages called up on a site during  the average session.  It is calculated by taking the total number of sessions and dividing it by the total number of Web pages.

Web Pages per Person: The average number of pages looked at by an average user during the given time period (in this report it is a month). It is calculated by dividing the total number of page views by the unique audience.

Minutes per Person: the average number of minutes an average user spends on a site during a given period.  This is calculated by taking the total number of minutes on a site and dividing it by the number of unique visitors. This figure is affected by the unique audience of any site and it does not reflect necessarily how much time an individual user spends on average on a site. It is an approximation of that figure based on total minutes and total unique visitors, both of which are affected by the size of the site.

Search Ads (Text-Based Ads):  These are the most common kind of ad, and the kind of ad that a search engine like Google makes most of its money on.  This is an ad that contains only text and a hyperlink to the product the ad is selling.  Text ads of this kind are ubiquitous and show up in various places on the Internet. Google has integrated these ads into its search engine, e-mail service (Gmail) and YouTube, as well as all its other Web-based services.

Display Advertising (Banner):  This is the second-most common form of advertising on the Internet. These ads include text and some kind of image such as a company logo or a photograph.  These ads can include some kind of flash animation or moving image, but the user’s interaction is limited to clicking on the ad.

Rich Media Ads:  This refers to ads that include animation or video, but also include a more complex user interaction.  These are ads that a user can interact with in various ways, including stopping or starting a video that may be part of the ad or playing a simple game that is itself a lead into the advertisement.
Video Advertising:  Video ads appear before, after or during a video clip that a user has chosen to watch and are video’s themselves in the vein most users are used to seeing on television. 

Lead Generation:  This term refers to a kind of advertising in which users are required to fill out some kind of personal information to receive a free or trial offer from the company hosting the ad.  The level of information can be as little as an e-mail address, but can also include more information such as gender, age, home town, etc.  This kind of ad is lucrative for advertisers because it requires users to have a higher level of interactivity with the brand because they have to fill out personal information first.  It also allows the company to archive the data that the user fills out and can be used later to get a better picture of what kind of people are interested in a particular product and therefore can help the company target ads better in the future.

Classified Ads:  These are traditional classified ads for anything from jobs to used cars that once were common in newspapers but have now largely migrated to the Internet.  Craigslist is the most popular place for free classified ads, but these ads appear on lots of websites.

E-mail Ads:  These are ads the users receive through their email.

SMS/MMS Ads:  These are ads that users receive as text messages. SMS refers to “Short Message Service” and are ads that include text only.  MMS refers to “Multimedia Message Service” and ads of this type can include photo, video or audio content.

Pay Wall: Blocks access to a website (or a part of a website) without payment.