Is ‘Attention Time’ the New Key Metric for Measuring PR Success?

public relations measurementPR pros have relied on metrics such as pageviews, shares, "Likes," followers and other so-called "vanity metrics" to prove the success of campaigns. But these measures all share the same fatal flaw—they don't account for anything that happens after a user initially interacts with the content.

For example, a pageview from a user who opens your content and immediately clicks out of it counts just as much as a pageview from a user who reads and interacts with your content for an extended period of time. The latter user, of course, is much more valuable.

With that in mind, many in the industry are moving toward a model in which time spent engaging with content is the measure of success on the Internet. This is not necessarily groundbreaking stuff, but measuring it accurately isn't as simple as it sounds. For instance, what happens if a user opens your website and then immediately gets called away from his or her computer?

In order to help solve that problem, publicly released their code for what they call "Attention Minutes," which attempts to measure not just if a user is spending time on the page but if that page has his or her attention. The code and the resulting metric look for interactions, like a mouse moving in an active browser window or a video playing.

Upworthy says that content providers can build their "Attention Minutes" code into their existing systems with a bit of programming knowledge, or they offer Chartbeat's out-of-the-box solution as an alternative.

And they're definitely not alone. Just last week, The Financial Times announced that it would begin selling display ads based on the time users spent interacting with its content, ditching the industry standard CPM.

Will you begin to incorporate metrics like "Attention Time" in your campaign reporting?

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene