Time-Based Ad Sales? Publishers Still Weighing Promise And Risk
The idea behind time-based ad sales started circulating in 2013 when an advertising director at the Financial Times proposed that time could be used as a currency to trade. Over the intervening years, awareness of the concept has spread and a small group of publishers, including the FT and the Economist, has actually begun selling ads this way.
The appeal for higher-end publishers is clear. Selling ads based on impressions rewards a high volume of visitors (even if they’re bots), but selling based on time assigns higher value to a more engaged audience. By extension, this rewards higher-quality content, and it provides a foothold to compete for ad dollars on the basis of content quality and audience engagement rather than fighting a losing battle for massive scale.
From the advertiser perspective, purchasing based on time can help address concerns about the efficacy of ad buys. The attention currencies used for time-based sales guarantee greater viewability than the Media Rating Council’s viewable impression standard, and because they’re based on real-time monitoring of user actions, they can help reduce fraud. And while more empirical research is needed, reports from the FT indicate that more time in view does increase a display ad’s impact.