New metrics for online advertising

The simple model of Continuous News will eventually replace much of what local and national media companies produce online and not just because it makes sense for journalism. We can make more money this way, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately.

As I’ve previously written, it’s the era of “finished product” news that’s drawing to a close, those packaged models of information designed to appeal to a mass audience. Today, the demand is for now, raw and even unedited up to a point.

With Continuous News comes the reality that there is no such thing as a page view online. This is an archaic term that serves no one, especially publishers and advertising wishing to use the Web to do business. Continuous News elevates the scroll bar over the page view, because the cost of interaction is lower, and the scroll bar suits the blog software necessary to do the model justice. And in so doing, it reveals many things about advertising and browsers that ought to get the attention of Madison Avenue downstream.

So I’m going to call it “browser views” as opposed to page views, but a browser view doesn’t encompass everything on a page. That’s because the “page” is very long and can occupy many display ads along the side rail. If they are positioned so that only one appears with content for reading to the left, the advertiser’s wish of being the only ad adjacent to content is fulfilled. That moment, when in the scrolling process, there is content to the left and one ad to the right is what I’m calling a “browser view.”

I also want to state that the value of that ad is determined not by the eyeballs that view it at that moment, although advertisers would love to devalue the experience by looking at it that way. Its value should be determined by the daypart in which the ad is served, with the noon hour going for the highest rates.

We’re way off base in determining online ad values, and this is part our fault and part the fault of the advertising industry, which can’t seem to view anything other than through old eyes.

A television commercial, for example, is viewed in a pod of other ads. Those pods are getting longer, and the individual ads fight for attention with other ads, regardless of their position in the pod. The same is true with display ads in newspapers or magazines. Every ad competes with other ads and marketing clutter. It’s what we do.

But the Web offers a different experience, one that’s clean and simple, if we’d only design our sites according to the scroll bar instead of the clicking on pages. We’re giving away the store otherwise.

While we’re at it, what is the value of a news and information site? How is it determined? Assuming it makes money, why don’t we take the total amount of revenue and divide it by users to determine a price-per-user, or divide it by the minutes of the day to determine price-per-minute? These values become negotiable in terms of setting rates, not locking rates based on individual metrics and hoping to increase them to grow revenue. The goal should be to raise the price-per-minute or the price-per-user, not demand more, more, more content to grow the page view model.

And let’s remember that in a simple Continuous News environment, the likelihood of engagement — that attracting of real attention — is much, much higher than it is with a banner among other blinking and twirling items. If we create value for advertisers and price it accordingly, all this business about trying to find the right metrics becomes moot.

Approaching advertisers this way will be met with resistance, because “that’s not the way we do it.” But we must stick to our guns here, because eventually we’ll win out. It’s not only good for publishers, but it’s good for advertisers as well. Somebody has to break the mold. Who will be first?


  1. to pick up on the Continuous News theme-

    i got better coverage of yesterday’s atlanta tornados from livenewscameras than cnn.


    cnn is world hq’d in atlanta. lnc apparently is hq’d in whatever corner of fox chicago that isn’t being used for something else at the moment.

    sure, cnn had some nice finished pkg’s, but lnc gave me the option of 3–4 live feeds. they were definitely raw.

    AND lnc produced none of it.

    go figure.

  2. @tdc Yeah, well I just went to lnc to see what it was and my processor climbed to 99% and my PC began to crawl. An experience like that means I probably won’t go back too soon.

  3. mel,

    i wonder if it’s because they seem to be adding feeds at a rapid clip and it appear each is cocked and ready to fire at the click of the trigger. they’d probably be best just having the station logo up there. hey, but wtf do i know.

    too bad your first experience wasn’t so good. that is always vital.


  1. […] much money): Approach consumers individually (via cookie or whatever) and let what I call the “browser view” determine advertising, and this is especially important for mobile. When somebody clicks on a […]

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