I was struck by this comment from a session on audience measurement at the Business Blog Summit (via conversationrater):

I don’t care about how many page views or visitors I really get. I care about getting the right visitors, the influential visitors, or the potential customer visitors. How can I tell who’s who?

Duh! But this truism of media seems to be lost in the gross measurements of audience, page views, video views, etc. that you constantly see cited for MySpace, YouTube, Digg, etc. It’s lost in the spat between Ze Frank and Rocketboom over audience size.

But most of all, it’s lost in New Media’s lame efforts to articulate its value to advertisers. As Stowe Boyd observes in his discussion of metrics (including has own Conversational Index):

But none of these has the authority that Neilsen ratings have had in the world of television. Looks like it would be a good opportunity for Nielsen or its competitors to create some industry-accepted metric, based on a combination of these sorts of factors: total readers, by demographic, how much they read, how long they stay, do they subscribe, do they read the RSS, how often do they click through, etc.

Indeed, beyond pay-per-click, online media is still desperately lacking a killer metric to capture the value of its dynamic community and network effects. Highly networked communities like MySpace are still fumbling around with CPM display ads instead of seizing the HUGE opportunity to innovate how brands connect with customers through community.

If new media — or any media — is going to have a viable business, it has to turn its focus to business side innovation, which lags sorely behind technology and content innovation. Either that, or media can just capitulate and hand the business side over to Google’s voracious monetization engine.