The study conducted by comScore, "The Silent Click: Building Brands Online," focused on measuring ad peformance beyond click-throughs and looked at three specific user actions across 80 brand campaigns on 200 sites over a month: Searches related to the advertisers' brands; traffic driven to advertisers' sites; and e-commerce tied to advertisers' brands.
Among the key findings:
-One in five conduct related searches and one in three visit the brands' sites
-Users spent over 50% more time than the average visitor to these sites and consumed more pages
-Users spent about 10% more money online overall, and significantly more on product categories related to the advertised brands
-Higher-income audiences visited the advertisers sites
"In order to understand the value of the audiences that display advertising attracts, our study helps marketers think about real behavioral measures designed to move the needle," said OPA President Pam Horan, in a statement. The study is part of broader efforts by the OPA and Interactive Advertising Bureau to convince marketers of the Internet's potential beyond direct-response advertising.
Earlier this year, the OPA introduced three new larger ad units which many member sites including CNN.com and NYTimes.com are supposed to adopt by July. And last year, the trade group issued a study showing that branded content sites have a greater impact on key metrics like brand favorability and purchase intent than ad networks and portals.
ComScore in December released a separate, widely circulated study --"How Online Advertising Works: Whither the Click?" -- which reached similar conclusions to those in the new OPA report, finding that click-throughs alone were inadequate to evaluate display ad performance. With average display click rates falling below 0.5%, it's little wonder the industry wants to move away from that metric as the key measurement for online ads.
But with the recession prompting marketers to shift spending toward search and other types of performance-based dvertising, making the case for display advertising is especially difficult this year. Even so, the OPA study emphasized that display spending on the "high-quality content sites" represented by its nearly 50 members pays off in online sales.
E-commerce spending by visitors exposed to ads on OPA business news sites such as Forbes.com and msnb.com was 21% higher ($334) than those exposed on the top 50 most-trafficked business sites as a whole. For people viewing ads on the group's news and sports sites, online spending was 15% ($426) and 8% ($241), higher, respectively. The OPA plans to make the full report available June 25 on its Web site.