Commentary

Time As A Currency Is Making Waves

Like a broken clock, digital marketers only get it right some of the time. They want to change that.

A broken clock is right about .14% of the time, which is only slightly worse than click-through rates, if that’s your metric of choice.

Or perhaps you’re adopting viewability as the key metric. But even then, you’re losing more often than you’re winning. 

If you’re really avant-garde, maybe you’re thinking of time itself as a metric, a school of thought that apparently got huge overnight. A recent Digital Content Next research report says that 80% of digital publishers are using time-based measurement “in some form,” with 20% planning to in the future.

If my math is correct -- and I’m pretty sure it is -- that would mean every publisher surveyed is planning to or already does use time as a metric. Where did that come from?

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Sure, the Financial Timesrecently announced it would dabble with time as a currency, and WebSpectator, a real-time bidding (RTB) ad exchange that lets marketers trade digital ad inventory using time as a metric, recently claimed to have grown its publisher base by 300% year-over-year, but the 80% figure -- with the remaining 20% saying they’ll join -- seems to have arisen like a bat out of hell.

Granted, there are problems in the way, and the majority of the 80% using time-based metrics are doing so on a small scale. The report says most are “testing or express interest in transacting on time.”

Nearly all (90%) say they are using time metrics to internally evaluate performance, per the report, with 85% sharing that data with agencies and marketers. 

Two-thirds (68%) of publishers say a lack of standard metrics and measurement regarding “time as a currency” is the main obstacle blocking further adoption. About half (48%) said a lack of research proving a connection between time and ad effectiveness is a major obstacle. 

Over half (52%) of publisher believe time-based metrics can replace the “standard impression,” with 48% saying it could also replace click-through rates as a standard, per the DCN report. Another 32% feel time-based metrics are not a replacement for any of the currently used metrics.

Something tells me the 32% that aren’t behind time as a metric are, in fact, behind the times.

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