Still, the salmon-coloured business newspaper faces the same problem as all publications: Print ad rates are far higher than digital ones.
But FT group chief executive officer John Ridding says its secret weapon is audience engagement. “Our audience is not just growing,” he told shareholders on 27 February. “People are spending more time with the FT and consuming more content.” To take fuller advantage of those eyeballs, the paper’s website has started to change the way it sells ads.
The FT is the first major publication to try charging advertisers based on how long readers spend looking at a screen where their ads are displayed, rather than on how many times they click on the web pages where the ads appear. Online data analytics companies argue that the conventional system of clicks inevitably favours websites that can get readers to click without inducing them to read long enough to register ads. “What matters is the amount of time that an ad is in front of someone’s face,” says Tony Haile, CEO of analytics firm Chartbeat, which is working with the FT to test the time-viewed model.
For years companies such as Facebook have made changes to their websites and apps based on so-called attention metrics, such as how fast readers scroll down a web page and where their cursors hover while they do. It’s been tougher to convince advertisers that this kind of analysis really measures whether a person was actually looking at the screen when an ad appeared, so most websites’ sales departments have stuck with rates based on unique viewers or total page views.
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