4 Ways You Can Cash In on the Attention Web, According to Chartbeat’s Tony Haile

The Attention Web is more than a buzzword being tossed around marketing conference rooms; according to Chartbeat‘s Tony Haile, it’s the means of bringing new spoils to online media’s Wild, Wild West.

The Attention Web is the catch-all term for measuring what people do after they click: Do they scroll? Do they highlight? How far down the page do they get? How long do they spend with the content? And do they come back?

“If we look at the purpose of traditional historical analytics, it was to understand what happened in the past and make some kind of reasonable prediction about what would happen in the future,” Haile said at a data journalism conference hosted by Columbia Journalism School’s Tow Center. “That’s incredibly powerful. From that we’ve been able to drive tremendous insight about a number of things.”

But as Haile’s favorite philosopher, Mike Tyson, always said: “Everyone has a strategy until they get punched in the face.”

Between the advent of the social web and widespread digital traffic fraud, that is exactly what’s happened to the pageview model.

Don’t want to get left behind with the times? Here are a few pointers from Haile on how to capitalize on the Attention Web.

1. Measure the amount of time your viewer spends engaged on the page, not simply the amount of time it’s open.

“Advertising is useless if it’s hidden behind 15 other tabs or if you’ve gone off to get a coffee, so why should brands pay for that?” Haile wrote in an email. Chartbeat has worked with the Financial Times to do just that, with advertisers paying for time rather than space.

2. Target the right people for the right amount of time.

“A brand should buy an ad placement based on how long it needs to be consumed,” advised Haile. “So if AmEx is simply announcing a new brand and success is a business-focused audience knowing its name and logo, they should consider buying only 3–5 seconds of a business audience’s time. But if they have a more complex message about a case study or a native advertising piece of paid content, they would need 45 seconds or even 2–3 minutes, depending on the length of the placement.”

Just as you would with a 30-second TV spot versus a 60-second TV spot, think about how long you need to deliver your message.

3. Track consumers’ attention over time, not just one session.

“Like all brand advertising, display and native ads (the good ones, anyway) aren’t meant to convert immediately,” Haile explained. “You’re generally not clicking a ‘Buy One Get One’ ad for a Mercedes on The Wall Street Journal homepage.”

To see whether you’re moving the needle, Haile suggests tracking “your entire relationship with an audience.” Measure this by determining the amount of time your audience has spent with your brand across the web. “Or, as a publisher, where on your site are people actively consuming the most content? Are your top-clicked stories the most read? Most likely not.”

Attention Web

4. Build a loyal audience.

There’s no shortcut here. If you want people coming back again and again, they have to like you, Haile said. “Too much of the web is focused on one-off traffic spikes. What do those actually do for your business?”

The answer: a lot, actually—but only if you can convert those new visitors into loyal audience members by engaging them beyond the first few sentences. “The more they read, the more likely they are to come back, and the more likely they are to recall the ads that are in front of them while they’re reading.”

Attention Web

Attention Web

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