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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Time is Money in the Attention Economy

January 15, 2015 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Time is money: true. But time, as it turns out, may not always be on our side.

The web is awash with stories about ad viewability problems and the need for measurement standards. The hard truth is that because we can count clicks, we do. Yet almost anyone really thinking about the true measure of digital content success realizes that a click might measure little more than clumsy fingers or fleeting glances. What content creators—whether from media or marketing—really want is engagement. And, as DCN research recently revealed, an emerging measure of engagement is time spent.

Yet as anyone with an overstuffed inbox and more push notifications than they can handle will attest, there are never enough hours in a day to do what we need to do, much less read everything we want to. Time is among people’s most valuable resources therefore if a consumer spends time with content, we can assume that the content provides them some value.

This topic is so meaty and relevant to aspects of our business both today and in the future, we decided to make the theme of our annual member’s-only DCN Summit this year: “The Attention Economy.” We’ll examine how everyone in the digital media business needs to put the customer first and create experiences that make the most of their valuable time.

One of the most vocal champions of time based measurement is Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, who will team up with Brendan Spain, the FT’s US Commercial Director to discuss the real-world applications of time as a metric for advertising performance. The FT has been an early mover in selling display advertising based upon the amount of time its audience spends with content. Spain plans to come armed with FT data generated by the first six months of experimentation with this strategy to provide insights into whether or not time spent with an ad message does, in fact, generate greater measureable impact.

Demonstrating engagement on one platform is challenging enough, but many media organizations reach consumers across a broad range of channels and need to measure the entirety of their audience. At this year’s Summit, three organizations—ESPN, NBCUniversal and AOL’s Adapt.tv—will explore how they are tackling cross platform measurement.

While advertising is certainly an important means to deliver advertising, an increasing number of brands compete for consumer attention with content. Dick’s Sporting Goods has gone all-in on content and Brand Director, Frank Igrec plans to reveal his beguilingly simple content marketing strategy: create content people actually find compelling. Attendees will also hear from Delta Airlines, which approaches content as a means to of super-serving its customers, as well as Mt. Dew, which has found content to be the best way to reinforce its brand among its millennial target. These sessions will look at the innovative work these organizations are doing to step up their content game in order to attract and genuinely engage audiences.


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