Chartbeat’s Attention Minutes Metric Accredited By Media Rating Council
It's another step closer to an attention economy, the real-time analytics firm says, but it remains to be seen whether publishers and advertisers will change the way ads are priced.
Real-time analytics firm Chartbeat, one of the leading advocates for dumping the page view for attention minutes as the primary measurement of digital success — and therefore advertising currency — announced this week that its metrics have been accredited by the Media Rating Council.
The accreditation by the MRC, which sets standards for the measurement of online content and advertising, is another step toward Chartbeat’s goal of helping to create an environment in which publishers can focus on creating quality content instead of chasing eyeballs with lowest-common-denominator click bait and multi-page slideshows.
“We’ve been talking for a while now about the attention web, and lots of people have said they liked it as an idea, but it was just an idea,” Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile told Gigaom. “But now it’s official — so now, there can be an attention economy, in which both publishers and advertisers buy and sell attention minutes or metrics as a measurement.”
The idea, as Haile told Ad Age, is to create scarcity:
“Time is the only unit of scarcity on the web. You’ve only got 24 hours a day per person. So what you’ve got is a constrained resource: time. That directly correlates with the goals of advertising. Just like any economy of scarcity, anyone who captures most of it can charge more.”
Chartbeat has been working with several publishers, including The Financial Times, the Economist and viral site Upworthy on new ways to measure consumer activity on their sites, tracking mouse moment and keyboard activity to determine how closely a reader is paying attention to a page.
The Financial Times appears closest to asking advertisers to pay for that attention in a new way; Advertising Age reports that the publication is looking for six advertisers in the next three months to buy at a cost-per-hour rate, instead of CPM.
Whether such a shift will prove fruitful — or catch on elsewhere — is an open question. There is resistance to change among agencies and publishers happy with the current system that powers the $13 billion digital-display ad market. More from the Ad Age article, which lays out the issues in great depth:
“Agencies are among the entrenched interests,” said Benjamin Zeidler, director-research and analytics at digital-marketing agency Tenthwave. “They’re good at buying ads. They know how to do it. It’s probably scary to change the mode of how they do business — how they sell it, price and benchmark it.”
Publishers that attract huge audiences aren’t eager to see a shift either, said Paul Rossi, president of The Economist Group. “There are a lot of people for whom the current system works quite well.”
Neither the Interactive Advertising Bureau nor MRC has tackled the subject officially. “IAB has not gone to MRC with the notion that attention measurement merits a task force and needs to be standardized,” said Sherrill Mane, senior VP-research, analytics and measurement at the IAB. “We may or may not go down that path.