Time-Based Advertising Is Taking Off

The impression economy is finally faltering, with some wise folks calling it “the biggest mistake” our industry ever made. Video has it’s own problems with the “view” as highlighted by Rob Norman.

Neither views nor impressions reflect how much attention is captured by an ad, causing media buyers to clamor for better metrics.

The most promising new metric for measuring media is time, thanks, in large part, to its relationship with attention. The Financial Times has over a dozen clients paying them on a cost per hour metric and leads a working group of over 30 publishers and technology companies developing time-based media solutions.

The hottest publishing platform on the web, Medium, is pricing branded content distribution based on time spent with content.



Moat just raised $50 million to drive adoption of it’s time and attention measurement stack and other companies like Webspectator and Instinctive are offering media products sold by the second.

Parsec’s own time-based platform has seen double-digit growth every month since launching last fall, and is being leveraged by agencies working with brands like BMW, Discover, Colgate and Dell to buy media on cost per second basis.

Agencies from every holding company have run campaigns on Parsec’s platform.

Research is proving the value of time spent with advertising. A recent IPG Media Lab study found a 2.5x increase in recall as exposure times increased. Universal McCann will be presenting results of their work for BMW in New York City next week.

Thanks to the right mixture of technology and market conditions, the attention economy, whose arrival was heralded by Wired 20 years ago, is starting to take shape. The resulting focus on time and attention will better value both the quality of media and the creative running on it.

6 comments about "Time-Based Advertising Is Taking Off".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, May 17, 2016 at 8:49 a.m.

    Of course, situations where an ad is on the user's screen for a longer duration are going to get you better response rates and/or advertising impact. Of course, it better than just counting any "page view" as an "impression". But we have to do better than that and the only way forward is to incorporate some human-based metrics like ad recall and brand preference change into the equation. You can't simply equate time spent, as defined in this article with ad exposure. You don't know what the user is looking at or even if he/she is looking at all.

  2. Russell Isaacson from sovrn Holdings, Inc., May 17, 2016 at 11:43 a.m.

    Agreed, Ed, but incremental improvements are better than nothing (see a related article by Jay Friedman in AdExchanger today,

    OnScroll also enables time-based ad buys, and we're excited at sovrn to bring this to the US market.  

  3. Marc Guldimann from Parsec replied, May 17, 2016 at 2:35 p.m.

    Ed you are correct, in a lot of situations time spent might not equate attention, especially on desktop. However, our inventory is comprised of only mobile articles and feeds using politely interruptive formats that capture a reader's entire attention for a length of time they control.

    Metrics like recall and preference, or even business outcomes, have serious issues with measurement, attribution and creative control.

    Time spent is uniform, finite and scalable. It can be applied to any advertising experience where the user controls duration and best of all, it aligns everyone in the value chain to show people ads they want to see.

  4. Marc Guldimann from Parsec replied, May 17, 2016 at 2:37 p.m.

    Welcome to the party Russell! If you're in NYC next week you should come to our event around time-based advertising:

  5. Chris Rooke from NATIVO, Inc., May 17, 2016 at 4:04 p.m.

    Time Spent + Scroll Metrics + Interactions paint a vivid picture of consumer attention for marketers. These data points separate the wheat from the chaff...question is who on the buy side are prepared to demand this data from suppliers, and who on the sell side are willing to provide it.  Good to see more attention (no pun inended) in the news cycle around this topic.  Byline I wrote on this subject related to content marketing and native distribution touches on a lot of similar ideas.

  6. Michael Schmidlen from Of Eleven Media, LLC, May 19, 2016 at 12:49 p.m.

    Happy to see this emerging trend as we have been proponents for over two years now. 

    We certainly hope this trend continues to gather followes and adherents to the model!

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