ADOTAS – Who really clicks on ads anymore? That’s not necessarily a rhetorical question — it’s one of several mediaFORGE poses in this white paper, released earlier this week. mediaFORGE provides technology that aims to determine post-engagement attribution, which the company insists is a much better way to measure a campaign’s success than click-throughs are. If, as the paper suggests, what we call a “view” often isn’t viewed and what we call an “impression” doesn’t actually create an impression on the viewer’s mind, and if optimizing an ad campaign for a better click-through rate narrows your target audience to an unnecessarily small group of viewers who might not be the audience most inclined to make a purchase… then what needs to change, and how? mediaFORGE proposes engagement to be a better gauge of success than click-throughs, and naturally the paper’s authors explain how their company can provide the right answers to its clients — but along the way, they lay out a carefully researched argument that the era of CTR may be over. Below, you can read an excerpt, and you can read the whole thing at mediaFORGE’s website.
Engagement: Leading the Display Metric Revolution
A Position Paper from mediaFORGE
Engagement is the metric that most successfully ensures ads meaningfully influence user behavior. Where clicks and impressions have inherent deficiencies as indicators of overall banner ad campaign success, engagement succeeds. There is an industry consensus that traditional display campaign measurement tools are inadequate. Limited viewable ad inventory challenges validity of attributed view-through conversions. Narrowing target audience to optimize campaigns for clicks leads to substantial opportunity cost. Campaigns should be optimized for engagement to maximize yield. Tracking ad engagement validates that impressions were viewable. Clicks are not the exclusive indicator of purchase intent.
To empower advertisers to make the right decisions when exploring campaign metrics, mediaFORGE has detailed its position on why optimizing campaigns for impressions, post-impression attribution, and click-through rate (CTR) does not give an adequate
understanding of campaign performance, and how post-engagement is able to substantiate performance with much more meaningful results.
I. Era of Dynamic Display Advertising
With today’s advanced technology, the best online display ads are rich with website-like capabilities, making ads personalized and allowing customers to have an interactive experience without ever leaving the page they’re browsing. 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. What’s more, advances in consumer tracking technology have enabled ad creators to feature tailored content that matches each individual’s shopping/browsing behavior – giving consumers a more personalized ad (and brand) experience than any other advertising medium. Combined, these innovative features not only make ads more noticeable and inviting to consumers, but they empower them to engage with advertisements without committing to a click. Engagement ranges from scrolling through featured products to searching catalogue inventory to watching a video. And because all this can be done within the ad, it extends the unique experience of visiting a brand site to properties throughout the web. The dynamic features of this new generation of online display ads has made them increasingly influential in the conversion process and more capable than ever of attracting shoppers that wouldn’t have otherwise returned to make a purchase. However, the value of dynamic display advertising would be completely lost without the ability to track engagement and, more importantly, its influence on user behavior. The great news is that this capability exists.
II. State of Interactive Ad Measurement
Recent conversations regarding the “Making Measurement Make Sense” (3Ms) initiative indicate that advertisers recognize the shortcomings of campaigns focused on impressions or post-impression attribution and with campaigns optimized for clicks. In explaining the genesis of the 3MS initiative, the IAB website states that “while consumers have embraced digital media and continue to adopt […] new media behaviors, the marketing and media business have yet to create the tools necessary to keep up with consumers’ behavioral changes.” The organizations behind 3Ms (IAB3 , ANA4 , and 4As5 ) are making a clear call for higher quality performance metrics. What’s surprising is that engagement has, so far, been overlooked. As advertisers consider new standards for understanding display ad influence, it’s important that they recognize ad engagement, and subsequent post-engagement conversions, as a viable metric that will help improve optimization and attribution techniques. Not only does engagement add a more comprehensive evalutation of campaign performance, but it also fills doubt-raising gaps left by impressions, post-impression attribution and CTR.
Knowing that impression volume and post-impression attribution give little insight into banner ad success, clicks and click-through rate (CTR) have become a crutch for those hoping to understand campaign performance. Historically, marketers haven’t had anything else to reference. If asked if they ever click on banner ads, almost everyone will say “no.” In fact, according to comScore/Starcom research, just 16 percent of Internet users would answer “yes” – and half of those (only eight percent of all users) generate 85 percent of all clicks.10 Very few people click on ads, and those that do, do so often. So, campaigns optimized for CTR only succeed by narrowing the targetable audience and serving ads to users that have a higher propensity to click. This is highly effective at increasing CTR, but will return deceptively impressive results for those marketing managers who think clicks are the ultimate indicators of campaign performance. The question that marketing managers must ask themselves is, “Is my now narrowed audience of likely clickers the group I’d really like to reach, and does this strategy yield the best possible outcome?”
No. mediaFORGE contends that, because typical users don’t click on banner ads, advertisers forfeit a large pool of opportunity by optimizing for CTR. For e-commerce advertisers, sacrificing profitable incremental revenue for marginal improvement of CTR is unnecessary. Not all buyers are clickers and not all clickers are buyers – in fact, most of them are not.
On average, those who engage with dynamic interactive display ads return and convert 44 percent faster than those who click through. This significant improvement suggests that, although a click-through is a demonstration of interest, it’s not the most convincing indication of purchase intent. mediaFORGE CTR ranges from .08 percent to 1 percent, while engagement rates range from 10 percent to 20 percent – an indication that users are more comfortable interacting with shoppable ads than clicking through to another website. In the case of retargeting, it’s unreasonably assumptive to think that users are immediately ready to return to a site from which they recently abandoned.Interestingly enough, those that do interact with dynamic banner ads also spend more on average than clickers. Sixty percent of campaigns studied had a five percent higher post-engagement average order value (AOV) than post-click.