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The Guardian tests time-based ads

News, 22 August 2016

LONDON: Following similar initiatives by the Economist and the Financial Times, the Guardian has become the latest UK news brand to explore the possibilities of time-based ad campaigns.

The newspaper is running a digital display ad campaign for the Economist, which will last until September and is based on the amount of time readers spend viewing ads.

The Economist – and other potential advertisers – will be able to buy guaranteed time slots, ranging from ten to 30 seconds, across the Guardian's digital platforms, with the overarching aim of delivering more effective ads.

"It's part of our fewer, better ads strategy, and it develops our thinking that not all ad impressions are the same," said Nick Hewat, the Guardian's Commercial Director, in comments to Digiday.

"This isn't a one-off problem solver," he added. "It's part of an ongoing objective to deliver more tangible results for our clients."

According to the Guardian, the guaranteed time slots will remain 100% in view, and time-based metrics could be more effective than relying on impressions because the latter can lead to clients paying for ads that are never seen.

"We use click-through rate as an industry benchmark for performance. However, a metric of 0.0 something percent should not be seen as a success," Hewat said. "It's not an indicator of long-term success, of brand health and attention," he added.

As the Guardian moves to try to deliver advertising effectiveness beyond clicks, the Economist has already developed a series of initiatives to improve ROI for its campaigns to engage readers and attract new subscribers.

The current affairs magazine has developed a "hedging strategy" for social media, but it also has been testing ads based on viewability.

"We need to be buying on engagement, and buying on time is a useful test because time is a potential proxy for engagement," explained Mark Beard, SVP of Digital Media and Content Strategy at the Economist.

"Marketers do their best work when they align the objectives of the campaign with the media buy," he added. "Then you are buying media on the same basis as the campaign deliverable."

Data sourced from Digiday; additional content by Warc staff