Time Based Ads Fail to Take Off

A year ago, The Financial Times and The Economist made waves when they announced they would charge some advertisers based on how long readers spent on a Web page with an ad in view, rather than the number of people who saw the ad. It was a sign of hope for some in the online publishing industry, who saw this metric as a way to reward the sites that have a committed readership, and jumpstart a stagnant online ad market.

But the optimism for any significant change in the near term has largely faded. While those two publications have continued to offer time-based advertising for some campaigns, ad executives said they weren’t aware of any other sites that have adopted the metric. An executive with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry trade organization, said that the metric hasn’t been widely adopted enough for them to even track how many publications use it.

Yet Ms. Reed cautions that the ongoing disagreements around less complicated matters like how to define an ad’s viewability, could keep that shift off in the distance.

“We need to solve for those problems first before we agree on a time spent metric.” Ms. Reed said.

Jorge Urrutia del Pozo and Darren Herman commented on this article.
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The agencies aren’t set up to look at time as being valuable. I think everyone started to think of digital as a cheap way to reach a lot of people; that put the focus on the wrong metrics.