Photos, video clips and other content embedded into personal MySpace and Facebook pages will now be tracked separately by the online measurement company comScore Inc.
The introduction of the comScore Widget Metrix represents the company's latest evolution as new technologies make the standard yardstick of page views less and less meaningful.
The new measurement means that Photobucket, for example, would get full credit for items that are accessed as part of a Facebook profile. Before, Facebook alone generally got the credit. The count is becoming important as these items turn into vehicles for delivering advertising and revenues.
Users of blogs and social-networking sites like News Corp.'s MySpace are increasingly embedding content stored elsewhere. Outside sites like Photobucket make that easy by providing the programming code to cut and paste into profile pages in the form of "widgets."
Indicative of the growth and importance of this practice, MySpace's parent, Fox Interactive Media, is buying Photobucket for about $300 million.
"Years ago, these were relatively unheard of technologies," said Linda Boland Abraham, an executive vice president at comScore. "We were just amazed how quickly they have grown."
ComScore — which counts only widgets embedded in Adobe Inc.'s ".swf" Flash format, not those accessed through desktop applications — said 178 million people viewed such content worldwide in April. Slide, RockYou and PictureTrail ranked as the most popular services.
Earlier this year, comScore began reporting site "visits" — the number of times a person returns to a site. Besides failing to fully count embedded content, the traditional page view measure does not fully track sites that use a software trick called Ajax to improve the user experience.