Through with Click-Through?

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Through with Click- Through?

Growth of Digital Advertising

Constantly growing, and with nearly one in four advertising pounds in the UK now spent on it, digital has become  an indispensible part of almost any advertising campaign.

While now established (if continually evolving), digital advertising’s measurability is, however, still in its infancy.

In its early days, the USP of online advertising was its ability to allow consumers to act on the advertisement immediately through clicking on it and to invariably be led to the website of whatever product was being advertised.  From a campaign measurement perspective, this was gold-dust.  Advertisers were able to accurately measure exactly how successful an online campaign was through solid data: the click-through rate.

At first, online advertising was a novelty, with about one in seven users who saw an ad clicking on it.  Fast-forward over a decade, and the click-through-rates have plummeted to a fraction of 1% (0.03% – 0.09% is considered an average).  It’s not that advertising creative has declined in quality – far from it – but the initial novelty has worn off. Crucially, recent ComScore data shows that just 8% of US users account for 80% of clicks.  Most people just don’t click any more.

This doesn’t mean that online advertising has stopped working, just that we need to reconsider how we expect users to engage with it.  When someone sees a Cadbury advert on TV or on a poster, advertisers do not necessarily expect them to immediately purchase a chocolate bar, or log onto the Cadbury website to find out more about the advertised product.
Both of these would in fact be regarded as fairly unusual responses for most forms of traditional advertising.  Instead, what the advertiser in traditional media is largely hoping to achieve is an increase in brand awareness and recall so that when the viewer of the advert decides to make a purchase decision further down the line, they will be favourably influenced by the advert.

Therefore, this line of thinking reasonably progresses, this is how we should view online advertising: as a propagator of brand awareness and influencer of purchasing decisions.  Not as a way to drive viewers immediately to the advertisers website.
The next question, of course, is how do we measure this new definition of online advertising success?

Last year, Microsoft, ComScore and Eyeblaster issued a report in which they analysed the correlation between dwell time (the time a user spent engaged with a rich-media online advert) and campaign success.  Conducted across twenty different campaigns over six months, the report calculated a ‘dwell score’ by multiplying the amount of time a user spent engaging with the advert with the rate of engagement.

The report found that the higher the dwell score, the more positive a viewer’s behaviour will be towards the brand after seeing it.  In particular, the data showed that high-dwell campaigns delivered a 69% improvement in a campaign’s effectiveness at increasing brand site visits.  Those exposed to the high-dwell campaigns were also 39% more likely to make a branded search when they came to purchase a particular product.

These are impressive results, and an impressive, quantifiable measurement method that goes beyond the simple click-through to give more holistic, and therefore infinitely more useful, campaign reporting.

The only catch is that this method relies on rich-media adverts.  However, video adverts are on the rise, with Cisco estimating that in two years 90% of all web traffic will be video.  As online advertising, particularly brand advertising, continues to employ video, advertisers have the potential to revolutionalise how they approach, how they measure,  and therefore how they  improve, online advertising.

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