Fake UX vs. Authentic UX Metrics
The impact of Fake UX on website revenue & organic web traffic
What is Fake UX?
Online publishers have always been concerned about visitor experiences. This has led to a rise in focus and attention around technology, techniques, and efforts designed to enhance and improve user experiences across the web.
Unfortunately, this has given rise to, Fake UX. Fake UX is the artificial inflation of pageviews, reduction of bounce rate, or improvement in session duration that occurs as a result of something other than a good visitor experience. It is the artificial generation of improved user experience when the visitor is actually not engaged in any part of a publisher’s web experience.
How Does Fake UX Happen?
Fake UX can be the result of intentional or unintentional actions by a publisher. The most harmful form of Fake UX is when traditional user experience metrics like bounce rate, session duration, and pageviews per visit are artificially high, and actual visitor engagement is actually low.
Example: A new website visitor lands on an article, reads the article, decides to click on some related content at the bottom. As soon as the page loads, the visitor realizes this content was not what they wanted to view, and clicks back. Upon returning to the home page, they quickly decide to close that tab and resume browsing the web on another website.
The Dangers of Fake UX
Fake UX can be harmful to publishers in several ways. The first is simple, if you have visitors that you think are having good experiences, but are actually struggling with navigation, links, or page speed you could be hurting your brand and return visitor rate over time. Most publishers genuinely want their visitors to enjoy the experience on their site.
Next, is the financial impact. Fake UX often produces a large amount of low-quality pageviews with almost no engagement from visitors. This is devastating to publisher ad revenue; as pages that are affected by this see much lower CTR, viewability, and campaign performance. This means advertiser bids for ads in those locations will decline over time; reducing the eCPMs of those pages. What’s more, if these metrics get bad enough, advertisers will often black list publishers. This means reduced competition and less revenue for the publisher.
Last, is web traffic. In our recent case study, we found that Fake UX not only harms revenue but can harm traffic as well. Low-quality pageviews, increases in navigation bounces, and poor visitor engagement has a direct correlation to negative SEO performance and a reduction in organic search traffic.
Fake UX can also be a slippery slope for publishers that believe in testing. If you commonly run tests on your website to improve UX, it’s possible that your “winners” could be filled with Fake UX; meaning you are basing your decision-making off of things that could actually be harming your website.
The Importance of Tracking Navigation Bounces
Navigation bounces are similar to regular bounces except that they are more internally targeted. A navigation bounce tracks internal bounces over different pageviews. It can help publishers see if visitors are commonly navigating to pages on the site where they leave immediately and likely produce a low-quality pageview.
A steep rise in navigation bounces could mean that there’s a problem on a publishers site. Being able to identify when and where navigation bounces are unusually high can help publishers safeguard against declines in session revenue and website traffic.
Understanding Engagement Time
Engagement time is the time recorded when website visitors are actively looking at a web page and interacting with it, but it excludes when users are quickly scrolling, waiting for a page to load, searching through navigation, or in other windows or tabs. It’s the time spent reading, watching video, filling out a form, or actively consuming content during a user session.
Engagement time is critical to quality web visits. Engagement is directly correlated with ad performance and is also associated with better search engine ranking positions. Publishers can benefit from understanding which types of user sessions produce the lowest — and highest — engagement times.
Analyzing Engaged Pageviews
An engaged pageview is a pageview where the user has spent at least 10 seconds “engaged” to a page. Engagement is measured by looking at engagement time on that particular pageview. Looking at total engaged pageviews per visit is a way of tracking the number of engaged pageviews throughout a user session.
Monitoring engaged pageviews is the best way for publishers to ensure that visitors aren’t experiencing fake UX; thereby producing low-quality pageviews. Declines in engaged pageviews could spell trouble for website revenue and traffic. On the flip side, increases in engaged pageviews are a great indicator of improvements in UX.
Authentic UX vs. Fake UX
Publishers keep learning more and more about user behavior and user intent. One of the clearest things we’ve extracted from the data recently is that not all user experiences are equal. Visitor engagement has a massive impact on both revenue and website traffic. Often, user experience metrics, like pageviews per visit, can become artificially inflated; causing publishers to be fooled and revenues to take a dive.
Inside the Ezoic dashboard is an entire UX metrics studio that allows publisher the ability to look at all the metrics above — and more — in a completely granular fashion. Outside of looking at these metrics sitewide, publishers can breakdown all of these stats by landing page and page.
This is what Ezoic does
This is exactly why Ezoic was constructed and exactly how Ezoic works. The platform contains a number of testing applications that gives digital publishers and website owners the ability to do comprehensive, data-driven website testing.
Ezoic allows platform users to automatically test ads, content, layouts, and much more. Artificial intelligence does the hard part, and you’re in total control of the experiments and how the solutions are delivered on your site.
The Power of Artifical Intelligence
The ability to test, optimize, and deliver every visitor a better experience is simply too hard for a human. There is too much data to sift through and analyze. That’s why artificial intelligence can deliver real value to website owners and digital publishers.
A.I. and machine learning have become industry buzz words, but few are actually leveraging real learning technology. This is crucial because it would be impossible to optimize all of these factors at scale over time without a technology that can actually learn as it goes.