Engagement: Leading the Display Metric Revolution

By Chris Lee

While it is true that clicks represent an immediate movement from ads to the website, they are not always a reliable measure of purchase intent. This is the view of Tony Zito, CEO of dynamic display and retargeting company Rakuten MediaForge, who believes there is a need for higher quality performance metrics to measure campaigns against changing Web behaviour.

Zito believes it is surprising that engagement has, so far, been overlooked. For example, Zito said, engagement with an online ad can range from scrolling through featured products to watching a video. He also cited Nielsen report which argues that not all buyers are clickers and not all clickers are buyers.

“On top of this, some people will have been influenced by an ad but gone on to make a purchase through other channels, such as a search engine,” he told NMK. “Very few people click on ads but those that do click often, so the audience reach of an ad is limited, only converting users that have a high propensity to click. An increased click-through-rate can therefore be a deceptively impressive result and not the ultimate indicator of campaign performance.”

What makes a good online ad?

According to Zito, the best online ads are rich with website-like capabilities; these ads are more inviting to consumers because they empower them to engage without committing to a click. This allows customers to have an interactive experience without leaving the page they’re browsing, he argued. A recent Adobe study revealed that consumers who were exposed to interactive ads had stronger engagement, message involvement and purchase intent than those who saw static ads.

“Users are more comfortable interacting with ads that don’t force them to abandon their current web page. Using tailored content that matches a consumer’s browsing behaviour provides a more personalised brand experience,” he said. “Our own research shows that those who engage with dynamic interactive display ads return to a site and convert to a sale 44 per cent faster than those who click through.”

Similarly, Zito believes, impressions are important; however companies that base campaign success on the number of ads served are solely focused on increasing ad volume, not conversions. ‘Banner blindness’ is a common occurrence and many ads are not seen by consumers, he said.

“In fact, RealVu, an advertising analytics company, recently revealed that viewable impressions are never more than 56 per cent and could be as low as six per cent on an individual campaign basis. Tracking engagement allows marketers to know whether ads are seen and to understand how they influenced consumer behaviour,” he added.

Online ad measurement best practice

Gone are the days when brands and advertisers had to accept the metrics of clicks and views, as no others were available, Zito concluded.

“Engagement solves the problems presented by clicks and views by reaching a wider audience than just clickers,” he advised. “As advertisers consider new ways to understand display ad influence, it’s important that they recognise the importance of influencing consumer browsing behaviour and use interactive features to catch consumers’ eyes.”

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