Early this year, Upworthy.com has announced that they ditched 'Page Views' for 'Total Attention Minutes' as the main performance metric. This means that how the company judges success evolved from simply looking at the volume of page views/unique reach/shares to incorporating how long people are engaging with each content on their pages. I personally welcome and congratulate these efforts made by such forward thinking companies. I'm sure that there are some companies out there right now, considering the similar move; however no one could take that next big step before, simply because the level of accuracy to the measurement of attention wasn't there. But now, there is a company, called Chartbeat that can provide you all that.
Upworthy.com made the headline, but they are not the only advocate who shares the importance of measuring whether visitors are actually engaged with their content. YouTube, Chartbeat and Medium are also heading to the similar direction, valuing the metric focused on real audience satisfaction. Financial Times is another aggressive and forward thinking company that started trialing to sell their online ad space as 'Time-based'.
I haven't seen many publishers in the AU market selling their ad spots based on 'Time' yet. This could be because time-based measuring of audience engagement is still new and is tough to build. The shift in our mind set of how we actually evaluate the performance of media needs to evolve, and this isn't only to help delivering media to the right audience for advertisers. This is really an important step for publishers to take as well.
The internet is overloaded with junk contents. Last year, Americans viewed 12 times as many pages about Miley Cyrus as they did about Syria — even though the news sources published 2.4 Syria articles for every one about Miley.
Clay Johnson continues by answering the following question on why fast-food companies aren't entirely to blame for unhealthful eating, and online communities aren't entirely to blame for unhealthful information consumption:
"Obesity is a complicated problem. Obviously, obesity has to do with access, and obesity has to do with the economic conditions, but it sometimes also has to do with overeating, and the same thing happens with information. I think a lot of people don't have great access to information and good information, that's for sure, but also in the world of the Internet, we have almost universal access to everything that we need. And that means that we have to make empowered decisions and informed decisions about what it is that we're consuming. It's the only way to sort of 'live right' online."
The choice of consumption is made by the audience, but we can't ignore the fact that the current industry model of Page Views or Unique Audience = 'King' isn't really helping. It just incentivises companies to write or broadcast zero calorie contents to drive significantly high volume of traffic = revenue.
Once the industry starts to recognise the importance of focusing on the 'Time Based' engagement model, then it may not take that long to start seeing the changes in how the contents are generated and how we as audience consume those contents.
Managing Partner | Openpool