Agencies Grapple With How To Value Ad Exposure Time

dali-clocksIf time is money, agencies and publishers are still working out how to bill for it.

At a Wednesday event hosted by IAS in Manhattan, Mitch Weinstein, SVP of ad ops at IPG Mediabrands, shared research that found time in view was more important in driving ad effectiveness than the number of in-view pixels.

In other words, Weinstein said, some impressions that don’t meet the MRC’s viewability threshold generate more recall if those partial ads are visible for a longer period of time than those that render more fully.

But measuring time an ad is in view isn’t a big prerogative for brands, even though agencies are looking into it.

While IPG Mediabrands is examining data from IPG Labs – which conducted the aforementioned study – it’s not buying based on time-based metrics.

“The issue is in reconciliation,” Weinstein said. “How do you bill more accurately and how are you reconciling it with what you bought? We use Mediaocean to control billing and digital planning – but it’s still all impression-based and CPMs.”

If agencies were to start buying around time on site, they’d have to work out a way to set up billing and track against it.

But Joe Barone, managing partner of digital ad ops at GroupM, disagreed that buying based on time is all that much of a leap.

“The partners we work with can report on various durations of exposure,” he said. “So we might reconcile on a pure viewable metric, but we can still optimize along durations. So I don’t think it’s as revolutionary as some people might say.”

Additionally, US brands aren’t particularly interested in buying on time.

Jen Soch, EVP of commercial delivery at Guardian News & Media, pointed out that most interest is coming from European markets, whereas US brands are still focused on the viewability metric. She acknowledged that this sort of buying requires getting the right researchers who can value time of exposure properly for both the buy and sell sides.

Marc Boswell, SVP of sales operations and client services at Business Insider, also didn’t see a lot of brand interest for buying on exposure time.

“Time-based is not a big demand source right now,” he said. “It’ll be a big nightmare to reconcile. Viewability is already a big nightmare to reconcile. The infrastructure isn’t set up yet. It’s an interesting model, and it’s something we could try should there be demand, but we haven’t seen it yet.”

Boswell is also dissatisfied at the tech that transacts on time, since much of it refreshes ads once the threshold has been met. And that, he said, is a big user experience issue.

In the end, the ad industry will have to devote more research before it realizes the possible benefits of buying ads based on time.

“What’s the value of 30 seconds of total exposure to an ad unit?” Barone asked. “We don’t know.”

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  1. The FT and Parsec have done lots of research around the impact of time on brand and DR KPIs. We’ve both seen lift across all metrics like recall, awareness and intent, even CTR, on a per-second basis.

    There’s no question the refreshing of adjacent ads is inferior to politely interruptive experiences, but it’s a bit of a stretch to say refreshing an ad is “a big user experience issue”.

    Here’s the thing; the more closely related metrics are to an underlying asset (in this case attention) the easier it is to cherry pick higher quality goods. Agencies who aren’t buying on time in the next 12 months are going to be getting similar quality inventory to those who aren’t concerned with viewability today… eg the dregs.. “viewable” slideshow inventory that’s on screen for 1.5 seconds.

  2. The idea that we can’t transact on time because viewability is already too complicated is twisted logic. Billing on total exposed time (Cost Per Hour) could actually be easier to manage than billing based on a guaranteed percentage of viewable impressions because it would provide the opportunity to clean up a lot of variables. The industry is still unclear on how to bill a campaign with a 70% in view rate if the actual in view rate was 60% for at least part of a campaign. The industry is still unclear on whether the billable impressions should include a percentage of impressions that are unmeasured. Add to that there are too many certified measurement vendors providing different numbers and the fact that at least one major agency group is in complete disagreement with the MRC’s definition of viewability, and you can conclude that maybe selling based on time is worth thinking through.