Financial Times moves cost-per-hour advertising metric out of beta

The Financial Times is making time-based selling a bigger part of its commercial strategy having moved its cost-per-hour (CPH) digital advertising metric out of beta.

The publisher, which soft launched CPH trials last September, has rolled out the time-based metric to give advertisers an alternative to measuring campaigns based on ad impressions and click-through rates (CTRs) alone.

BP, iShares and IBM were among the 10 partners to initially test the format and buy blocks of time on FT.com. The metric also guarantees 100 per cent viewability of five seconds or more, meaning clients are only charged for ads which have been seen by readers for a minimum of five seconds.

The move has been prompted by advertisers’ calls for greater accountability around online media spend, as issues such as ad fraud and whether ads are actually being seen by consumers, have intensified over the last year.

Dominic Good, Financial Times’ global advertising sales director, said its motivations for the new metric have largely stemmed from its desire to provide new ways to help advertisers better meet their targets.

“For the three decades of commercial internet history, advertising has derived its value from one measure: how many people click on an ad. Low viewability scores and questions about advertising placement and fraud have increased the need for better measurement and transparency to demonstrate the actual outcome an advertiser is seeking.

“While CPM values every impression the same, CPH uses time to measure value. The FT has shown through extensive testing that brand familiarity and recollection among readers increases significantly the longer an ad is in view. Adverts seen for five seconds or more on FT.com show up to 50 per cent higher brand recall and familiarity than ads that are visible for a shorter period of time,” he explained.

Advertisers have long relied on CTRs to measure online performance yet these kinds of targets now clash with their requests for greater viewability of ads, according to Good.

"When it comes to performance – there is often a tension between optimising for CTR and viewability. An MPU may not be in view or deemed so for very long but it may have gathered a good CTR for example. What's the solution there?

"Our approach is we work closely with our clients on it. We can work with them to achieve very high viewability scores but might be a trade off with them for something else. It is hard to optimise for CTRs if you want 90 per cent viewability. Time-based selling is the response to that – they can have 100 per cent viewability but the price will be slightly higher," he told The Drum.

The publisher has also stated its intentions to work with other global publishers to help establish the metric as a standard currency. It is working with Chartbeat to deliver the system.

With time-based advertising the FT has promised to deliver the following for advertisers:

Guaranteed reach: Working with Chartbeat means the FT can sell blocks of audience time to advertisers with the guarantee that the client will only be charged for ads that are seen for more than five seconds of ‘active’ time with 100 per cent viewability.

Demonstrable impact: Readers who see an ad for five seconds or more are up to 50 per cent more likely to display familiarity and association with a brand.

Hyper-targeted campaigns: The FT has detailed data about its subscribers, meaning advertisers can run highly targeted campaigns reaching an influential, global audience.

More cost-effective campaigns: An advertiser that buys a CPH campaign will receives 10 per cent more time than via a CPM campaign of the same spend.

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