Why Time-Based Advertising and Individualization Could Be a Match Made in Heaven

December 4, 2014

It’s no secret that publishers must work to keep up with changing ad trends—whether you’re looking at offering native advertising opportunities, programmatic buying or buyers guides and directories.

We’ve talked at length about individualization and have even put it in the context of targeted advertising. The fact is, if you aren’t operating with a multi-tier taxonomy system and working diligently to deliver related, highly relevant content to your readers, then you are likely selling yourself short, not just in content marketing, but also in advertising revenue.


Individualization already enables you to deliver ads to people who are most likely to be interested in them, and in many current advertising sales models, that translates to more clicks and views—which advertisers will pay for—and enables you to determine with your data, what kinds of ads (along with what type of placement) do best on your website. But consider this new trend:

80% of publishers want to sell ads based on time spent.

What does that mean?

Essentially, a shift is occurring in which publishers are selling and pricing ads based on how much time readers spend engaging with content that includes ads within view. This is a dramatic shift away from clicks and views, which has the potential to truly alter the metrics we use to measure ad success. It takes us away from valuing placement of an ad and encourages us to value engagement.  It’s not surprising in that engagement really is everything, but it also increases the importance of contextual ad delivery. Because, the content most valued by readers will be the content that reaps the greatest revenue, regardless of where it is located on the site.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s all the more reason to focus on quality content. But, it also means that really understanding your audience is the key to optimizing time-based advertising. And, that brings us back to individualization. The more you know, the more engagement you get, the more ads you can sell, the greater the benefit to advertisers and all of a sudden, contextual content delivery is infused through every piece of content on your site, making the reader experience, truly personalized. Everybody wins!

Where do you start?

Admittedly, there is a lot of hype around time-based advertising, but it’s mostly coming from publishers right now. Advertisers are not scrambling to get on board. That doesn’t mean they won’t, it just means that you have time to get your ducks in a row. Start by:

  • Gathering data that highlights your most engaging content.
  • Making sure your taxonomy system is up to speed, with the ability to tag and relate all types of content as well as interface with your user data to provide individualized content delivery.
  • Watching how time-based ads are working for the trailblazers like the Financial Times.  

Taking these steps will only help you to develop a stronger foundation for engagement, regardless of whether or not time-based ads become the rule, not the exception.