On Monday, Upworthy announced that they’re going to be embracing ‘time spent’ as a better metric of reader engagement instead of more traditional statistics like page views or clicks. While these other metrics capture traffic to a webpage, they don’t do a good job of showing whether or not the reader is actually engaged with the content once they get there.
Time spent isn’t the newest metric out there but its starting to be widely used. The Financial Times has said they can utilize time spent as a way to get more value for advertisers, and might even begin selling ads on a time-based model, letting digital advertisers purchase blocks of time.
Upworthy employs time spent by determining a consumer’s attention minutes (the minutes they spend engaging with content). Data on attention minutes comes from a variety of signals, such as a video player showing that someone is watching the video, or mouse movements or even which browser tab they have open.
It remains to be seen whether time spent will become the most accepted metric for determining digital advertising effectiveness, and even if it does, advertisers can game the system to make their work seem more effective than it is. But in an age where marketers are fighting for consumers’ attention, attention minutes and time spent seem pretty on point.
Let’s just hope we don’t reach a place where we no longer care about what we’re saying, just whether we can capture someone’s attention for several milliseconds longer than our competitor can.