Israel 2008: One Conference, a Few Friends, Many Startups & Some Observations

Just like that, it has been six months since I had my life-changing experience. And perhaps that’s why I was comfortable flying out to Tel-Aviv to attend Yaron Orenstein’s TWS 2008 conference, meeting with tons of startups and getting together with friends. The journey, not the visit to Israel, turned out to be quite arduous, mostly because of the modern air industry’s inability to observe punctuality and show any degree of respect for their customers. (Of course, if you follow my Twitter feed, then you are up on the news.)

Since coming home, I have been struggling with a jet lag and some other issues that have prevented me from writing my recap of the Israel 2008 trip. For the past two weeks I have struggled with the urge to smoke, for the heat has triggered memories of sitting at sidewalk cafes, drinking espressos and smoking with friends, watching life just take a lazy stroll. Fighting to stay the course and not smoke took all of my energy, so now you know the reason for my sporadic appearances on the blog, and not replying to your emails. Perhaps that is why the foggy weekend was a welcome opportunity to write about my visit. (The photo gallery of the trip is embedded at the bottom of the post.)

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Page Views Are Dead, Engagement Named As Heir

An in-depth look at the debate over web analytics over at Computerworld has concluded that page views are dead (although we track them assiduously at GigaOM), and like heirs squabbling over an inheritance, startups are fighting to define the page view’s successor: engagement.

The story mentions Israeli startup Nuconomy, which measures engagement by tracking things such as widget downloads and comments. Nielsen, which abandoned page views to focus on time spent on a site, thinks that’s a better measure of engagement, especially when it comes to online video. But a one-size-fits-all approach may not win out. The article quotes Avinash Kaushik, a web analytics consultant whose clients include Google, who says:

“A lot of people think the page view is dying so we should measure engagement,” he noted. “Just because the page view died, who…gave you the right to move to engagement? The web is becoming more fluid in terms of how people interact with it. The fluidity does not mean the core questions you wanted to answer go away.”

This isn’t just a semantic debate, it’s a struggle to define how advertisers will dole out the dollars for the myriad of online publishing sites and content networks out there. With online advertising reaching $21 billion last year, that’s an estate worth fighting for.