Gauging Display Ad Effectiveness: Move Beyond Clicks & Into Engagement

How are you measuring the effectiveness of your display ads? Columnist Liane Dietrich says emerging tools for looking at omni-channel engagement are proving invaluable.

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The rise of omni-channel and a new focus on the consumer has ushered in the need for a different kind of measurement. Gone are the days when metrics like CTR (click-through rate) sufficed.

Now, we are increasingly stepping away from measuring online ad success based solely on clicks or impressions and moving toward a more comprehensive understanding of the consumer journey.

Executing omni-channel campaigns means knowing more about how people connect, the decisions they make and the touchpoints they use, and the level of engagement throughout their entire shopping experience, so that marketers can make the most strategic decisions possible.

The Decline Of CTR: Not All Buyers Are Clickers And Not All Clickers Are Buyers

According to a study conducted by comScore, 16 percent of Internet users account for 80 percent of all clicks. So, if your campaign is optimized to generate clicks, you are likely missing out on the 84 percent of Internet users who aren’t clickers, but do buy online.

The idea that the first or last click should get all of the credit for a conversion ignores the impact of the other consumer touchpoints during the shopping journey, provides limited insight into the benefit of your omni-channel marketing mix and doesn’t illuminate whether or not 80 percent of your campaign clicks ever resulted in a sale.

The limitations of CTR give a false view, potentially not giving credit where credit is due for conversions and campaign results. Filling in the gaps means knowing which of your channel strategies took part in bringing the consumer to conversion. For a full-spectrum view of every campaign, we have to look at engagement.

Better Tools, Better Measurement, Better Results

There is a buzz in the industry that is spurring companies to create new and better measurements, and a consensus that clicks and impressions — although giving insight into campaign performance — aren’t enough anymore.

Advertisers want to know which ad(s) the customer saw, from which channel, and how they interacted with it in the context of an omni experience. They want a higher standard of metrics that gives them a deeper look into their ROI.

Display has become much more sophisticated, and it is evolving with new content and targeting innovations. Tools such as data onboarding, geo-targeting and beacons are becoming the answer to advertisers’ need for deeper insights that lead to more sophisticated segmentation and personalization.

We can now personalize and segment like never before — targeting by device, hyper location, purchase history, and more. As shoppers increasingly practice showrooming, these tools become more valuable by allowing marketers the opportunity to target consumers at the exact moment they are looking to buy or even at the point of sale, and then attributing those offline purchases to their online campaigns.

Tools to measure how consumers engage with online advertising – the core of what is leading the display measurement revolution — are also making their way to the forefront.

For instance, some currently available tools aim to provide one analytics platform for multiple channels. They show  how different touchpoints fit within the omni experience for each customer.

Differentiating between viewability and ad interaction during the consumer journey, and internally tracking in-ad engagement that ties conversion to the correct channel allows marketers to claim credit not just for clicks and impressions, but also for engagement.

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement

While the word engagement has been thrown around a lot — in everything from advertising to social media measurement — we’re seeing results that speak the truth. Engagement is the metric that most successfully determines if an ad has meaningfully influenced behavior.

A study by comScore noted that ad viewability and hover time are more strongly correlated with conversions than clicks or total impressions.

Measuring through engagement fills in information gaps left by clicks and impressions. Anecdotally, we know consumers have touchpoints between the ad serve and when they click. Measuring engagement fills that gap by showing viewed impressions and ad interactions.

By tracking and measuring these additional touchpoints and monitoring trends, advertisers can begin to predict when a consumer is demonstrating a certain level of intent, and strategically optimizing that consumer’s journey based on their previous touchpoints.

Understanding engagement is also critical to informing a campaign’s creative strategy. The new era of online ads is rich with website-like capabilities and deep personalization.

A study by Adobe revealed that consumers who were exposed to interactive ads had stronger engagement, message involvement, and purchase intent than those who saw static ads. As we better understand the correlation between consumer behavior and consumer actions, we can continually provide ads to drive the most desirable action: conversion.

As the marketing industry is breaking down its silos and finally getting a grip on omni-channel, engagement matters more than ever.  It is the topic that won’t go away and is only increasing in significance for advertisers, especially as consumer attention continues to spread across an ever expanding array of digital platforms.

It is vital for advertisers to understand where they can reach their target audience, and how and when they engage most. More crucially, how this engagement translates into ad effectiveness.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Liane Dietrich
Liane Dietrich is Chief Operating Officer, and is responsible for the planning and execution of Rakuten LinkShare's vision to deliver world-class online marketing solutions. Since joining Rakuten LinkShare, now Rakuten Affiliate Network in 2003, Liane has contributed to the company's success in the areas of service delivery, strategic direction and international expansion in her roles as Director, Vice President and Managing Director in Chicago, New York, and London.

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