And publisher sources say there is a lot to dislike about the metric that Apple will use to calculate revenue payouts. Dwell time, Apple’s version of time spent, doesn’t account for the effort or cost that goes into making content; and the metric puts visual publishers at a disadvantage compared with those that publish long reads or essays. Some see the possibility that dwell time, as a metric, could create perverse incentives that change the kinds of content publishers include in the service.
“We’re going back to a scale play where publishers will chase eyeballs and traffic to be No. 1,” one publisher source said. “We’re welcoming an era of metrics that are a bit murky. It’s awful for publishers. It’s a different type of a race to the bottom.”