It used to be that an impression was an impression. Whether anyone actually watched the commercial or not was irrelevant. Agencies and programmers were able to charge clients for offering the opportunity to see the spot.
End of story.
But as measurement capabilities have become more refined, impressions are no longer created equal. To an advertiser, who can now measure viewer time spent with a commercial, this is good news. After all, most advertisers would argue that a forty-five second impression is more valuable than a five-second impression.
And it's difficult to refute that.
More time spent with a brand message is better than less time spent with a brand message. One reason is simply because time is finite. There are only 24 hours in a day. And the more time a consumer chooses to spend with one brand's message, the less time they will have to spend with a competitor's message.
Advertisers see value in this. The question is whom should they pay for offering this value?
Programmers/networks are trying to convince advertisers that their programming is the reason that viewers stay involved in the commercial. This is superfluous logic.
The reason that people stay involved in a commercial is because of the commercial itself. How it is crafted. Written. Filmed. Directed. People don't pay attention to a painting in a gallery because of the gallery. It's because of the way the artist has crafted the painting.
As the industry evolves from intrusive-based advertising to opt-in advertising, this will only become more evident. And will, in turn, hand power back to advertising agencies.
Creative agencies will, in fact, be able to be paid on how well their work involves the viewer. If the work is crafted in such a way that it entices the viewer to watch the entire spot, that offers more value to the advertiser than if the viewer watches only ten percent of the spot.
In return, the advertiser should be willing to pay their agencies based on time spent with the commercial.
Time spent is really nothing more than an impression in control of the viewer. In the digital marketplace, the viewer decides when to opt-in and when to opt-out. The programmer's job is nothing more than to give the viewer the opportunity to opt-in.
It's the agencies job to keep them there once they do.
As audiences continue to fragment and impressions continue to lose value, time spent with a brand's message will gain favor as a currency to consider.
Will it put pressure on agencies to do better work? Obviously.
A handful will thrive.
As for the rest...