LONDON: The Financial Times, which has championed the concept of "engaged time" as a basis for ad sales, hopes to sell such advertising programmatically in the future, a top executive has said.

Last year the publisher reported the results of a trial of six ad campaigns bought on the basis of time-spent, with advertisers only paying if their ad was in view for five seconds or longer, which showed brand consideration for such campaigns was more than 50% higher.

"We're getting to the stage where a lot of other publishers are on the crest of potentially launching something [time-based metrics] of their own and we're helping them along," Alistair Smith, Head of Advertising Yield Management, told The Drum.

"We may try in the future to move this into programmatic," he added. "We wouldn't be able to do it on the real-time marketplace but we could do it in the private marketplaces."

Major brands, including Red Bull, Microsoft, Credit Suisse and IBM, are happy to buy advertising on a cost-per-hour basis (CPH), rather than the traditional cost-per-thousand (CPM), as they run more brand-building ads as opposed to direct response.

An unexpected difficulty in moving more advertisers over to the new metric, however, comes in the fact that the FT's CPM ads already have a high viewability time – ten seconds on average, compared to 19 seconds for CPH ads.

But the development of a new independent measurement standard and a site revamp that will allow advertisers to buy blocks of readers' time and prioritise branding campaigns across devices aims to change that.

"People spend a long time reading our articles and a long time on our site each day," Smith noted. "We're building a currency that allows [advertisers] to take advantage of their attention in a package.

"What I'd like people to do and what we're seeing from a few agencies in the UK and the US is they're starting to evaluate CPM campaigns by how long their ads are in view; time in view is actually being used as a metric of event CPMs like a click used to be."

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff