Ad Engagement Up, But Don't Ask Consumers To Click Through

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Entertainment-related categories reach nearly 215 million people in the United States monthly, and about 95% of people engage with videos or features in ads, but don't click. They abandon them. Consumers on average visit these sites 22 times each month, spending an average of 227 minutes visiting millions of pages that support content, according to a recent report.

The click remains irrelevant as a measure of online marketing success, according to research from comScore and MediaMind. Consumers engage with the ad through videos, playing games, tweeting and more, but don't typically click through the ad to another destination. The report notes that consumers can sample entertainment fairly easily in an ad. A trailer or a few songs from a CD will do the trick and are likely to work better than a comprehensive description or link to another site. The report suggests that entertainment banner ads impact box office revenue, making it possible for marketers to predict the success of a film before opening day.

This makes it more important to measure the time people stay -- or dwell -- with an ad, which seems to have a more direct effect on brand metrics. Consumers who saw campaigns producing high dwell rates were three times more likely to search for brand-related keywords. By passively measuring Internet activity, comScore can mathematically link it to movie performance and box-office results prior to theatrical release through a tool it calls Action Lift, which demonstrates and measures the lift in online behavior during a specific amount of time. Integrating Action Lift with MediaMind's dwell metrics allows marketers and advertisers to measure the engagement of their entertainment campaigns.

Comparing the number of dwell and interact with the number of people who click on the ads might be surprising. These two factors play a significant role in understanding how people behave when exposed to entertainment online display ads. People are more willing to engage and interact with online entertainment ads, rather than click through, which makes the click metric irrelevant. Since the study suggests that clicks have no relationship to performance, the report suggests dwell is the metric brands should use to track performance.

Ariel Geifman, principal research analyst at MediaMind, says "people focus on the click, but they don't realize that so many people that don't click are still exposed and interact with ads." Clicking "play" on a video isn't the same as counting a "click through."

Under this ad model, some verticals and ad formats perform significantly better in specific placements. Aside from video, "intrusive ads" such as expandable banners and home page takeovers are also successful. Entertainment ads typically appeal to a broad audience, but don't work as well in social networks like Facebook because they tend to have a lower dwell rate, Geifman says. Entertainment video ads do work better when placed in sites that cater to kids.

Social marketing works in social networks, but not as well. Social networks have a lower performance rate compared with content sites. They measure a 4.5% dwell rate and 35% full video play rates, Geifman says.

Let users enjoy the product without making the consumer jump to another site to sample the movie or the music. The study suggests that brands that make consumers jump to another page may not get them to jump back again. Brands outside the entertainment industry can follow the same strategy for similar results.

MediaMind and comScore worked for several months to complete the report. An earlier report conducted with Microsoft Advertising links dwell time to branding.

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