What will replace the page impression?

There’s been a lot of talk about the death of Page Impressions as a useful means of comparing website traffic, particularly as single web pages contain more and more dynamic content, e.g. Ajax, Flash, video.

At the same time, performance-based advertising models (where advertisers pay for clicks or even for actual “conversions”) are taking the focus off simple impressions and the CPM model of advertising.

But if not Impressions, then what exactly will web publishers and advertising networks be selling?

Joe Marchese at MediaPost proposes a combination of three factors:

Impressions have their role in the next generation of advertising metrics, but as a component. I would argue that any meaningful metric will account for volume of impressions, quality of content and alignment of content with brand advertiser goals. Combining these variables will create the demand market for influence needed to correctly align publishers’ and advertisers’ goals.

OK, so we know how to measure and report Impressions. Now, the prize will go to the first person who can come up with a universally accepted means of measuring and reporting “quality of content” and “alignment of content”. That’s a big challenge.