Attention Metrics: Bloomberg Media Sells Digital Ads Based on Audience Engagement
Global Chief Revenue Officer
Although the majority of Bloomberg Media’s digital advertising is bought and sold through the widely used CPM model, the publishing company also proactively reports time-based metrics to its advertisers. This has prompted many conversations with its clients about the benefits of measuring attention and engagement rather than impressions. eMarketer’s Tricia Carr spoke with Keith Grossman, global chief revenue officer at Bloomberg Media, about the challenges associated with measuring time and what it’ll take for attention metrics to be adopted industrywide.
eMarketer: When did Bloomberg Media start reporting time-based metrics for digital advertising?
Keith Grossman: On my third day at Bloomberg about two years ago, I asked the person in charge of digital at the time what metric we use to measure success online at Bloomberg. The answer was clickthrough rate. That evening, I [called advertising search and analytics firm] Moat and told them we need them to measure everything at Bloomberg.
From that day forward, everything was approved to be measured by Moat, whether it’s online or video—it has extended to the OTT [over-the-top TV] space now—so that we can understand the attention metrics associated with our content.
eMarketer: Was there resistance to this within your organization?
Grossman: There was a point with digital when everyone wanted scale. Then publishers realized that they would never be the size of Facebook, Twitter or Google. They started to realize that the area they can compete in—that those [bigger] entities can’t complete in—is engagement with their audience.
We reach 48.5 million [affluent C-suite executives]. We realized that we don’t have to reach a billion, because there aren’t a billion [affluent C-suite executives], and we have a great relationship with our audience.
“Publishers realized that they would never be the size of Facebook, Twitter or Google.”
eMarketer: Why has the industry as a whole been slow to start using attention metrics?
Grossman: Over the past two years, a lot of organizations began to discuss time-based metrics for the first time. But the areas in which time metrics fall short are standardization and understanding the proper amount of time for measuring success and engagement.
eMarketer: How are you working to solve these problems at Bloomberg?
Grossman: We’re experimenting with all of the standard attention metrics, such as cost per minute or cost per hour. Our go-to-market strategy is bespoke for each client’s needs. Even if advertisers buy on a CPM basis, we provide time-based metrics. If they buy on a time basis, we ask what KPIs [key performance indicators] they want to achieve and choose the metric based on the objective.
eMarketer: What types of advertisers have been successful with time-based metrics?
Grossman: The areas that are endemic to us, such as financial, do very well. There are also areas you initially wouldn’t think of for Bloomberg, such as luxury. However, when you realize the affluence of our audience, it makes sense. When I look at engagement for the luxury category, that’s where I’m the most pleasantly surprised.
“The question is, what is the proper amount of time to measure success and engagement?”
eMarketer: Is the industry getting closer to understanding and implementing attention metrics?
Grossman: There’s a slow evolution taking place. The marketplace is trying to understand the right metric to standardize against, but it hasn’t figured itself out yet. There is experimentation; the same client who might have wanted cost per hour six months ago is now asking for cost per minute.
eMarketer: What challenges must the industry overcome before there is wider adoption of attention metrics?
Grossman: The question is, what is the proper amount of time to measure success and engagement? If we agree on 2 minutes but then I give you a 200-word piece that takes 2 minutes to read, that’s not successful.
You can’t standardized against a 200-word article, because it takes less time to read 200 words on a site where you skim than on a more complex site. The industry needs category indices and some sort of standardization for word per minute so that we can understand how people are engaging on text.