Among the ideas floating around the industry is the notion of reclassifying certain information requests so that they would count toward a site's traffic numbers. So if an AJAX application requests XML data from a publisher's web server in order to update itself, that information request becomes a part of a site's traffic. In effect, this would categorize a number of data requests as page requests.
It's an interesting approach, but it's not without problems. First and foremost, it raises questions about whether or not a page metric is an appropriate measure of engagement and reach. After all, a web server that responds to a request for XML data might be updating only a very small portion of a page. Judging by the way some unscrupulous publishers have tried to game the system in the past, what's to say that a programmer wouldn't try to boost page metrics by inserting AJAX applications that update, say, a time clock in the upper right corner of the web page?
Just because an AJAX application requests data from a server, it doesn't necessarily mean that the reader of that page wants or cares about the information the application is updating.
Some opinions about the problem suggest that the page view will fall out of favor as a metric on its own, as a function of natural market forces, and that we will need new metrics to fill the void. An overhaul of our basic measurement guidelines seems to make the most sense, but we can't let that one pass without noting that web marketing stakeholders can't seem to agree on the precise definition of audience engagement. In other words, there might be years' worth of bickering and nitpicking before we see a metric that might have a prayer of replacing the page view.
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