Publishers must align monetization strategies with the content they produce.
Nowadays is the opposite — almost everyone sells ads based on traffic generated. But even if we would sell ads based on time spent or engagement or audience profile this is still selling ads. I doubt if an advertiser would want to pay more for a reader who fully read a long article about Syria. This reader definitely spent a lot of time, was engaged, probably is very loyal too. But is this really matters for an advertiser?
To put it in a contrast, a reader who skimmed for 15 seconds fashion picture gallery and is able to buy a $2500 Louis Vuitton bag is probably worth way more.
In my opinion people should pay for the premium content directly, not indirectly by viewing ads. This content should be scarce and delivered in a premium way. Readers must feel the value: maybe it is by removing all ads, redesigning website that will not look like another traffic attracting page, maybe it is by delivering weekly PDF magazine with the best editorial master pieces.
Having directly monetized our crème de la crème content I fully agree with the new ideas of selling ads. Publishers should definitely look for appropriate engagement and loyalty metrics focused both on content and audience.
PS. I dedicated myself to working on these problems, so I’d be happy to get in touch and have deep discussions about it: email@example.com.