We are far enough along into Web 2.0 that it ought to be adopting some of the familiar traits of conventional media --- as in circulation figures, readership figures, single-copy figures, overnight ratings, and the like. Ought to, as in starting to, not should be.
Sites themselves are judged by their unique visitors, by the number of pages those visitors view, and by the time they spend there. And it's relatively easy to translate that data into a popularity rating for particular online creators (such ratings are far less precise for either print or broadcast media).
Recently a Gawker site memo surfaced that indicated it gave bonuses depending on page views. Even though the site acknowledged that such measurement is crude and often distorted, it paid more or less to writers whose works were better or lesser read. Essentially, for every 400,000 views, you got $2,000 --- or $5 per 1,000 views, more likely.
PBS' Mark Glaser recently chimed in with an interview with CBSSports.com and how it values loyalty more than anything else. It's at work with Omniture, the company with the powerful Site Catalyst software, to find out how many unique visitors look at individual writers' work. Glaser also suggests organizations should want to gauge interaction with the audience, how much news is broken,
This debate is at an early stage, but somehow in the new environment of fledgling digital business models, something empirical is likely to replace the more subjective determinant of what someone's work is worth.