View Counts Are Meaningless

John Herrman, New York:

The internet promised, among other things, absolute audience surveillance, full measurability, and perfect knowledge of who was watching what, when, and for how long. What it delivered, instead, was metric tons of metric bullshit. Endowed with new powers of self-measurement, media companies, advertising firms, and online platforms have turned metrics into something approaching misinformation. […]

Everyone knows it is not really possible to measure how many people see a print advertisement. A web ad, though, is supposed to have certainty, as Herrman writes: it is being shown to just the right audience this many times. None of that is true. But the people who are responsible for this have destroyed the privacy of billions of people while pretending this is a realistic goal. Just one more tracking script and one more data category — that ought to do it.