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Rebecca Zisser / Axios

For decades, media has been measured by reach: How many people read the paper, listen to a radio broadcast or watch a show? In the smartphone-dominated world — where any media company can access almost anyone at anytime — the fight is shifting to dominating a person's attention.

Bottom line: "What people want to combine is digital video and TV metrics," says Jane Clarke, Managing Director of The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement. "And the current data sets aren't always clean."

  • Tech companies are crushing media at this game. Most ignore bulk traffic numbers and obsess about daily engagement. This is why they report daily active users instead of monthly unique visitors.
  • Life hacking is the hot trend for feeding addiction. The trick here is elbowing your way into every aspect of a person's life to create an unkickable habit and crank up engagement. Become a utility.The New York Times is focusing its subscription efforts on entities like "Cooking" and "Crosswords," two highly habit-forming topics.Last year, The Washington Post created "Floppy Candidate," an IOS and Android game aimed at attracting younger audiences.Facebook and Amazon are racing into the food delivery market, reaching deeper into consumers' lives.
  • Everyone's investing in binge video: Tech companies are pouring billions of dollars into creating original content to get a piece of binge watching time. At the same time, digital-first media companies, like Buzzfeed and Mashable, are going all in on original shows.

All of this creates a measurement conundrum, especially around video (more on that here). With Amazon, Apple, Facebook and others jumping into the business of original content, there is no way to accurately measure who is watching what, where and for how long. Tech standards for how they measure video consumption are very different from television, and they're often not vetted and verified. Snapchat, for example, measures a video view as any time a video is opened, while Nielsen counts video views on linear (and now digital) TV as active engagement for at least a minute.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

6 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."