Beck once sang, “Time is a piece of wax.” I have no idea what that means. But I do know that time is a bitch. One day turns into the next, and suddenly you’re in your 40s. If you’d been paying attention, you would have noticed that time has a way of sneaking up on you. And if you had really been paying attention, you would have also noticed the battle going on for your every waking moment.

We go to Disney World at the end of next month. It’s our first trip in a few years. Growing up down there, we went a lot. Now, we go back to Disney because it’s a quality experience. And I’m not complaining, but I’ve noticed over the years that everything at Disney is about time. Everything. From the time it takes you to board a boat or monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom, to the time it takes you to wait to ride Soarin’ – you might think you’re down there enjoying the experience for a few days, but really you’re just there. Time piles up, and what you can’t see on this trip – you come back to see another time. And when you come back, so does your money. Eventually, you will expire and the number of times they can get you back is relative to how much you spend. But in the end, it’s your time that matters most.

During the Super Bowl, a :30 TV spot costs an advertiser something like ten billion dollars. No, that’s not right, but it is a lot. And the reason is because the media company can count an audience of millions and sell that number back to advertisers as a captivated audience. Sure, not everyone watching represents a brand’s primary audience, but that doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t really matter about how many people are watching. What matters is that a brand is willing to pay millions of dollars for what amounts to the time it takes to get up and fetch a beer.

Which brings us to Facebook. With the rollout of their new timeline, and all the cool things attached to it, what do you think most of the 500 trillion people on Facebook are going to be doing the first few weeks or months after the new features appear? That’s right – they’ll be learning them and setting them up. If you like Facebook and think you’ve spent a lot of time there already – just you wait. Sure, you might bitch and moan about change (please don’t do this – it’s amateurish), but eventually you’ll give in. Where else are you going to go – MySpace? What else will you do, read a book? Right. No, you’re going to spend hours and hours pouring over new ways to present your life to your friends. The old Facebook was about the present. The new Facebook is about the past, present and future. And that’s going to take some time to create – to say nothing of getting to know (stalking) your friends better.

I know Facebook has an advertising platform that helps them generate revenue. And yes, they’re sitting on a gold mine of data about us (and just wait until they find out about our pasts), but if they don’t take full advantage of the next few months when everyone is glued down there – then they’re missing a massive opportunity. They’re going to have so many eyeballs for so much longer periods of time than normal, that they’d be criminally irresponsible if they didn’t try to maximize this, somehow. Think about it – when you’re on Facebook on your computer, you’re not really watching TV to see the ads there. When you’re on your Facebook mobile at the mall, you’re not really the best audience for all the point-of-sale stimuli. When you’re in Facebook – that’s where your attention and time is. So whether it’s pop up ads or timeline sponsors – Facebook’s got to do something. This time is too valuable. And as you’ll find out while you’re filling out your own Facebook timeline, it moves pretty stinking fast.

You can’t bank time. But your time is the most valuable thing you will ever have in life. And you can bet your ass that someone, somewhere is willing to pay dearly for it.


Jim Mitchem

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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.