While “impressions” are the advertising watchword, they might not be the best way to gauge the effectiveness of online advertising.
Now media outlets are clamoring for better metrics, the newest of which is “the amount of time that a visitor is exposed to an advertisement,” according to Matthew Ingram in a recent Fortune story.
“The Financial Times (FT) is one of the media companies experimenting with this method, which it calls “cost per hour” or CPH advertising—as opposed to the traditional model that charges based on CPM, or cost per thousand impressions,” writes Ingram. “After doing a trial with a number of large brands such as BP and IBM since last fall, the FT says that it is now rolling out the cost-per-hour approach across the company.”
Many in the industry believe that time is a much better measuring stick than mere impressions or quick clicks.
For instance, FT’s ad sales director Dominic Good thinks it’s time for something more meaningful in the measurement department.
“While CPM values every impression the same, CPH uses time to measure value,” says Good. “The FT has shown through extensive testing that brand familiarity and recollection among readers increases significantly the longer an ad is in view. Adverts seen for five seconds or more on FT.com show up to 50 percent higher brand recall and familiarity than ads that are visible for a shorter period of time.”
The new FT plan is for advertisers to pay for an advertisement only if it is seen by a user for more than five seconds of “active use” time. Tracking firm Chartbeat, the first analytics provider to be accredited by the Media Ratings Council to measure advertising based on the amount of time spent, will handle measurement metrics.
This way of measuring could rescue traditional media’s flagging fortunes. After all, in a world with a gazillion web pages, it may indeed matter not how many people see, but which ones they determine are worthy of their precious time.