Ev Williams thinks Internet companies should be judged on more than just their monthly active user numbers. In an interview this morning at the CODE/Media conference, the founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium said there are other metrics those companies and their investors should be paying attention to.
“I think a lot of the Internet and tech coverage of the Internet focuses on a distorting number of metrics… primarily users or monthly active users,” Williams said.
While user count is an important metric, Williams said it could be misleading. He gave the example of a user who requests a site on mobile but gives up before it loads. In that case, the server will count the reader as a user, even though he received no value and the advertiser received no value from the request.
Williams said his current company, Medium, judges its success more by the amount of time a person spends reading a story as opposed to just pure page views.
“We don’t want to trick ourselves into optimizing for the wrong thing… A better measure is the time people spend on these story pages,” Williams said. It’s a metric that advertisers like, especially as they realize banner ad impressions aren’t that important.
While that’s a practice adopted by Medium, it’s also something that could be applied to Twitter — which has seen its stock price hampered by questions of slowing user growth. When asked about Wall Street’s view of Twitter, Williams said, “I think Wall Street does not have a sophisticated understanding of what creates value in this world.”