• SiDevilIam

    Jeff JarvisShared publicly – 8:32 PM
    Selling web ads as time not space

    I just saw some mind-bending work Chartbeat is about to release about measuring the time users spend exposed to an ad online.

    As
    background, to quote Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile: “Chartbeat monitors
    activity by checking in with users every second and looking for signals
    (mouse movement, key strokes, etc) that show they are actively consuming
    the content in front of them. This means they can measure how long
    readers spend actively engaged on a page and what parts they’re reading.
    Because of this Chartbeat knows how long are actively reading while an
    ad is in view — both for an average user and the cumulative time of all
    users.” Chartbeat then did some internal research that found high
    correlation between engaged time exposed and a user’s ability to recall
    the advertiser’s brand and message. This has many implications:

    *
    Measured this way, ads that appear down alongside the middle of a story
    turn out to be more valuable than the supposedly premium banners at the
    top of the page. That’s because people quickly scroll past those
    banners and all the big hair on the top of the page — logos, promos, and
    all that — to get to the substance of an article, where they spend
    time. So inventory that was undervalued becomes more valuable.

    *
    Chartbeat suggests this means that quality content that engages people
    longer yields better ad performance. That, they say, would be a good
    thing for better content makers everywhere.

    * Now web publishers
    can sell time like broadcasters — only this is assured exposure time.
    Advertisers like buying time. Will this make them more comfortable with
    buying on the web?

    * I think this enables publishers to take on
    some risk for advertisers — guaranteeing them assured exposure time —
    thus increasing the value of what they sell.

    * I wonder whether this spells trouble for the big-ass ads and takeovers we users try to escape as quickly as possible.

    *
    I also wonder whether this spells trouble for the slideshows and other
    gimmicks that pump page views without increasing time spent exposed to
    an ad.

    * I’d like to think this opens opportunities to find new
    value in ads next to videos and games and also — this could be important
    — mobile pages (though don’t think that mobile’s value will come from
    exposure to messaging; it will still come from knowing people and
    serving them relevance and value). The longer we spend on a page, the
    longer we see the ad, the more valuable the ad should be, right?

    *
    I can only hope that this is another nail in the coffin of the
    dangerous, old-media-like metrics of unique users and pageviews.
    Engagement will matter more.

    Those who declare advertising dead
    are Mark-Twaining-it, I think. There are still many things to learn to
    find more effectiveness and value in advertising online. This is just
    one lesson. I say the real value of the net and mobile is in
    relationships: in learning more about people by delivering them more
    value so we can be trusted to deliver them greater relevance and value
    and, in turn, extract greater value from the interaction. More on that
    later….