The Rich Media Conundrum: Conversions?



Recent advances in campaign analytics – especially in cross-media conversion path tracking – provide fresh insights into elusive conversion trends and the effect of rich media has on them. New campaign data analysis is raising questions about the traditional rich media – standard banner mix. It’s becoming clear that rich media, already the basis for over 35% of all display online advertising, is not only a more effective at engagement, but also is a more cost-effective, driver of conversion.

Until now, few would dispute that rich media is the clear frontrunner in engagement and interaction over standard banners, but practitioners have suffered owing to challenges in measuring the effects on dual conversion that a mix of standard and rich impressions has.

The problem? Conversion drivers are a fickle thing, and until recently cross media reporting was an apples to oranges proposition at best. It was also often difficult to reconstruct the full path to conversion, and thus to establish what steps on this path carried the most weight. More robust cross-channel campaign analytics provide much needed insight into solving this conundrum.

Recent advances in campaign analytics – especially in cross-media conversion path tracking – have granted fresh insights into elusive conversion trends, and the effect of rich media on them.

Engagement advertising professionals know that impressions, not clicks, are by far the more accurate baseline for predicting measurement of conversion. A recent Eyeblaster research study campaign data analysis has shown that impressions (without clicks) – not clicks – drive upwards of 80% of all conversions. In fact, we found that conversion rates were not impacted by CTR at all. Our research revealed that – campaigns with low CTRs showed similar conversions to those with sterling CTRs.

These findings support the current trend in online advertising to recognize audience sophistication. As users become more savvy participants in advertising – and advertisers learn to better engage their target audiences – today’s rich media conversion metrics will find the better metrics to measure interaction rate (IR) engagement over “dumb” clicks.

Interaction Rate (IR), as an example, by way of definition, is the rate of positive user interaction based on measurement of user-initiated actions involving rich media display ad features – a mouseover is a positive interaction, whereas stopping an autoplay video or closing an ad is not.

Not surprisingly, unlike campaigns with higher CTR, campaigns with higher IR show higher conversion rates.

Conversion Path is Critical

Few would question that rich media clearly drives more interaction, but the real question in debate until now has been whether, and to what extent rich media campaigns are also cost-effective in terms of conversion. To gain true insight into this question, I propose a more holistic approach to measuring conversion.

Consider the entire conversion path. A recent report released by Avenue A | Razorfish concludes that “incorrect attribution of a conversion to the last exposure or action can be misleading…” So it would seem the key to measuring conversion, it is now evident, is considering the entire path to conversion.

And here’s the clincher, in our own study, when you look at conversions based on their actual path – the 1-5 impressions that preceded a conversion were weighted, and the true effect of rich media revealed itself. Extensive examination of conversion path data from representative online-only campaigns has shown that rich media impressions and interactions are behind the vast majority of conversions.

In campaigns where on average only 75% of total impressions were rich media, 82% of conversions were directly rich media- preceded by a rich media impression. But, when a conversion path existed and was factored in, in both rich and standard conversions, 98% of all conversions impressions had a rich media path. This means that rich media impressions created a halo effect that even conversions from the standard display adbanners were actually based on rich media ads.

The implications are clear. Online advertisers, who refrain from rich media campaigns in favor of massive, standard banner only buys, might do well to consider a mix of rich and standard. The study showed that, even with conversion from an ROI perspective, the implications are clear. Nearly every path that ended with a standard banner, the path to that conversion was heavily influenced by rich impressions. As a result, Eyeblaster recommends pursuing campaign management solutions with powerful analytics that facilitate a quick identification and execution of your optimal rich and standard banner mix. Traditional conversion measurements may be flawed, and conversion rates for standard versus rich media display ads are likely far higher than we thought. Thus, advertisers who were previously forgoing rich media in favor of massive, inexpensive traditional standard display buys, might want to reconsider their spending focus.


  1. Perhaps it’s ironic juxtaposition, or perhaps simple a bit of slip-shod writing. Eyeblaster is an Israeli company, more given to pronouncements (and arguments) internally in Hebrew than English. So, the Google alert which shows the head/sub-head of ‘The Conversion Conundrum: Turning Water Into Wine’ provides more than a chuckle.


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