Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Is It Time To Go From How Many To How Long?

Let me ask a question.

Is a thirty-second impression more valuable to an advertiser than a five-second impression?

In other words, if the measurement data shows that a viewer watched an entire thirty-second message, is this message more valuable to an advertiser than one where the viewer only was interested enough to watch the first five seconds of the spot and fast-forwarded through the rest?

It depends on who you ask, doesn't it? Ask an advertiser and the answer is usually yes. It's pretty obvious to them, actually. The longer people watch the spot for, the more value the spot has.

If you ask an ad agency, well, the answer is somewhat less defined. Ad agencies get paid based on the amount of time their people spend working on a commercial. Not the amount of time that viewers spend watching the particular commercial the agency spent so much time creating.

My question is why?

Viewer time spent can now be measured on digital platforms - online, VOD and DVR. Since this is the case, it's surprising to me that advertisers don't insist that their agencies are held accountable for how well their commercials actually involve viewers. They're paying their agency for thirty seconds. They may as well get their money's worth.

Which leads to another question. As impressions continue to fragment in the digital marketplace, is it time to consider - just consider - thinking about paying for work based on how long people watch a spot for rather than how many came to watch?

I know the argument. If viewers weren't interested, then they weren't in the target market, no harm done. The problem is that advertisers still pay for thirty seconds whether people watched all thirty seconds, or only five.

Why should they continue to pay for what didn't work?

Time spent is a way of verifying impressions. We always knew that not all impressions were created equal. We just didn't have a way of proving it.

Now we do.

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