Why attention metrics may be the future of advertising

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Evaluating ad performance is going through a seismic shift, attendees learned at Ad Age’s Digital Conference this week.

“Time spent” is now the hot new metric that buyers, sellers, measurement vendors and marketers are counting on to overcome viewability concerns and cross screens, as Ad Age reports.

The biggest proponent of attention metrics is Tony Haile, CEO of analytics firm Chartbeat. He said at the conference’s panel discussion on the topic: “There are two things that are proven to show recall recognition. One is the quality of the creative. The second is the amount of time that ad acrues. Price on that time, and attention becomes a way for marketers to be more effective, and for publishers to have engaging content. The more they can capture in view, the more that ad is worth. It’s a sustainable business model going forward.”

Dominic Good, global sales director for the Financial Times, said that his staff is currently analyzing the outcome of a pilot program with five test campaigns for separate brands, among which are BP and a few other industry players. The hope, which takes care of brands’ concern that their ads aren’t in view, is that every ad is in view for five seconds or more.

“Big corporate advertisers are using this as a way to get more exposure, guarantee viewability and guarantee the ability to show complex creative,” said Good. “We were getting a fantastic average and more exposed time than on a CPM basis.” Although five seconds was the minimum standard, the average tended to be 15-20 seconds, he added.

It’s still a challenge to shift priorities to attention metrics, the panelists said. “If we’re lucky we may get to a place where we start to equate [time spent] to GRPs on TV or potentially create a new metric for everyone against time,” noted Shenan Reed, president of digital for MEC North America. “The greatest challenge is to get TV and digital to talk to each other to get to a common success metric. If we do, we’ll see those budgets flow freely. We’re creating a free open marketplace that’s screen agnostic.”

Also, time metrics won’t jive for the “the resalers of bulk impressions,” said Reed. “Their metric for success is selling as many impressions as they can unload as quickly as they can unload them.”

Photo of Tony Haile via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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