New Tool Helps Measure Time Spent With Banner Ads

As Web advertisers already know, there is a big difference between someone visiting a page that contains an ad and that person actually noticing the ad. A new tool from Web measurement firm Lotame aims to help bridge that gap.

The tool, called Time Spent, tells advertisers not only when a viewer visits a page containing their ad, but how much of the ad was visible on that person’s screen and for how long. It also measures whether that person is active while visiting the screen by tracking how long he goes without moving his mouse or operating his keyboard.

“You don’t want to pay for someone who is just leaving their browser on a certain page and going to work,” said Andy Monfried, CEO of Lotame, which is based in Elkridge, Maryland. “If your mouse is idle for more than 2 seconds in a social-media setting, there is an argument to be made that you are not doing anything.”

Time Spent was designed to work on social networks, though it will soon be rolled out for other sites as well, Monfried said. Lotame collects its data though partnerships with the social nets, such as Bebo, Fotolog and other sites such as The Huffington Post. It does not work with sites that are more popular in the U.S. like Facebook and MySpace, choosing instead to focus on “mid-tier” social media, Monfried said.

Boston-based ad agency Hill Holliday, part of the Interpublic Group of companies, planned to announce today that it is trying Time Spent for its client Liberty Mutual in conjunction with its “Responsibility: What’s Your Policy” corporate branding campaign.

“We expect the Time Spent test will provide valuable information on how to deliver an effective campaign based on exposure — a metric that holds clear value to branding campaigns where other metrics are often an indirect reflection of benefits,” said Seb Maitra, SVP of media, analytics, and search for Hill Holliday, in a statement.

Monfried suggested the new technology could change how advertisers buy space on social networks–and ultimately help monetize the media–by shifting such purchases to a time-based format.

“People are spending more time on social networks and less on TV these days,” he said, “and advertisers could be more comfortable buying 30-seconds or 1-minute of time on a social network like they do on TV.”

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