Among others, Microsoft tries out revolutionary new approach to online ads with the Financial Times

Sean Cameron


It is a facet of every day life for most users of the internet; adverts are everywhere. Ever since marketing departments figured out that the internet exists, firms from around the world have been developing ever more attention-grabbing techniques to force the viewer’s gaze, even only if for a fraction of a second.

This is where the inherent weakness of what is known as the ‘CPM’ model of advertising lays. When the client pays by the click, or rather on the number of user impressions, the onus moves away from any message of quality and towards simple shock and awe. As such, developing a campaign over time becomes difficult, a point that is of particular concern to luxury brands the world over.

However, a new method has been trialed by the Financial Times, a UK-based newspaper, that seeks to eliminate some of the weaknesses of the old model, and in doing so benefitting not only the advertiser, but the end user. This new technique measures on a views-by-the-hour basis, in other words, paying for the amount of time the user spends looking at the ad. Revenue kicks in once the viewer has seen more than 50% of an ad for five seconds or over, and not before, being counted towards the hour and adding up as more viewers see the ad, the difference that this model could bring if widely adopted cannot be overstated.

Financial Times

Currently ads follow the user down the page, take over the screen, auto-play, pop-up, anything to attract the users attention. The focus is always on the initial burst, the one to two seconds before being clicked away, meaning bright colours and loud sounds dominate. Once the onus moves to a slow release approach, the user is allowed to relax, this in turn allows for a little more time with the ad, and more positive impressions for the brand as a whole. In adopting a model a little more like that seen on TV, online ads suddenly have the potential to become something more than an annoyance.

It is perhaps because of this that Microsoft have opted to purchase ad time using this new model, as have several other firms, on the Financial Times website, where the service is in its infancy. As digital marketing and online advertising continue to become ever more essential to firms around the world, hopefully we will see more innovations in this vein, rather than more brash attention-grabbing. Even if this service is simply aped, it will be a start towards collective sanity.

Are you keen to see a change in the world of online advertising? Let us know in the comments below.