NEW YORK: Advertisers should consider how they can increase consumer engagement with digital ads instead of simply bombarding them with ever more impressions, an industry figure has said.

"Every ad model built for the internet is built for tonnage – billions and trillions of impressions," Joe Marchese, founder of true[X], told "There has to be a model that favours quality over quantity," he added.

The one thing in limited supply is people's attention, he noted, and he was quietly dismissive of the industry's arguments around what constituted viewability. "Those are all opportunities to be viewed," he said, "but what marketers are really paying for is actual people paying attention to their ads."

And that he said, was why he had founded true[X] – to try to "fix the relationship between advertisers and consumers" and to get beyond the game where consumers try to avoid ads and advertisers respond by putting in more ads, eventually pushing consumers towards adblockers.

The true[X] model, he explained, gives the consumer the opportunity to engage with an ad, in return for which other ads would be removed. So, for example, by engaging with one 30-second interactive ad at the start of a show they could then go back into the show and watch it without any more commercials.

"The effectiveness of that one engagement is equal to the frequency that brands have been running with," he said.

"We're changing the equation from ‘how many page views can you get?'" he added. "There's perverse incentives in a market that charges for the lowest common denominator of an impression."

Most brands he said, have something on their website they would like consumers to come and engage with and that could easily be repurposed as an interactive ad.

"If, in one session, it could do the work of 20 exposures, why couldn't we reduce the ad load by 20?" Marchese asked. "Why couldn't everybody win? Consumers get less ads, publishers get rewarded for quality and advertisers get a return."

Data sourced from; additional content by Warc staff