Agency Executives Unconvinced Time-Based Ads Worth The Price; Ad Agencies Still Prefer Buying In Bulk


Time-based ads have not been adopted by most ad agencies since the effectiveness of the new ad metrics have yet to be identified.

In 2015, Financial Times and The Economist began to adopt time-based ads.

This means that advertising payments were based on the amount of time an ad was viewed by a user, according to The Information. Thus, the total advertising cost was no longer wholly dependent on the total number of people who saw an ad.

Time-based ads were initially viewed as a promising metric that would reward online publishers that have committed readers. For ad agencies, time-based ads should have been enough reason to experiment with new ways to stir the rather dull online ad market.

However, the rise of time-based ads was nowhere to be found as ad executives themselves were unable to find numerous websites that have changed from receiving bulk ads to charging for time-based ads.

Since there are not even enough sites adopting time-based ads, an Interactive Advertising Bureau executive said that the advantages of the new metrics over ads paid in bulk have been difficult to analyze.

Buying In Bulk


One of the problems that have impeded the fast adoption of time-based ads is the fact that the ad purchasing operations of ad agencies have primarily been built in a way that prefers bulk, broad purchases over placements based on attention and quality.

In defense of agency executives, time-based ads are still in uncharted waters.

While time-based ads reward websites that have a dedicated readership, ad executives are unsure whether an advertisement viewed longer by fewer people justifies the cost of time-based ads.

Thus, it is a question that attempts to determine whether longer ad viewership by few people is better than the larger quantity of people viewing bulk ads for a shorter amount of time.

Adopting Time-Based Ads

Even if most online publishers still have bulk, broad ads, Financial Times has decided to maintain time-based ads. The new metrics work best for high-end sites that are characterized by quality readership and not necessarily by high user reach, which is the goal of ads bought in bulk.

Instead of using the usual ad metric that counts people who have viewed a page for at least a second, Financial Times charges advertises to pay for every person who visited a page with an ad for at least five seconds.

Online publishers that have quality content would likely have users viewing a page for more than five seconds, but some publishers worry that unengaging ads would let advertising agencies unfairly benefit from the readership-per-hour metric of Financial Times.

Even if time-based ads are still being utilized by the site as more advertisers have accepted the new metrics, a marketing executive clarified that revenue from them forms just a small part of the online publisher’s total revenue.

“I think the agencies aren’t set up to look at time as being valuable,” Financial Times US commercial director Brendan Spain said. “I think everyone started to think of digital as a cheap way to reach a lot of people; that focus on the wrong metrics.”