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Beyond The Click

Once upon a time, there was the click. Campaigns that delivered more clicks were good – that meant end-users were getting the message – and campaigns with fewer clicks needed some work. Not anymore.

With ads growing more dynamic and multifunctional every day, the campaigns themselves have changed, and so has the need to demonstrate ROI. Ads perform for users now: They act as search boxes, news tickers, and gaming portals. They offer users options for how to interact with them – so sometimes an “impression” is enough, but often it takes much more to measure success than just number-crunching the clicks.

Welcome to the New Metrics. Now we can measure any kind of campaign, but the challenge is to find the right metrics for your campaign – pre-click, post-click, qualified click, biometric response – so you can find out what you’re doing right and what you need to be doing better. The opportunity is that technology can now make your ads work harder than ever.

Five years ago, I was helping to develop an early version of video ads. Having the ability to play video within an ad was a key milestone for the industry (and for advertisers), but we struggled to report on an ad’s effectiveness. Even so, then – as now – to really understand the performance of a campaign, you first need to understand its objective.

Branding-oriented campaigns depend on positive and focused “pre-click” user interaction. When we measure pre-click ad performance for our clients, we show them exactly how users interact with their ads. Armed with information about what users mouse over, what videos they play, and how long they watch those videos, advertisers can adjust ad creative to optimize campaign performance.

If a campaign’s objective is to drive a specific action after the user clicks on an ad (a “post-click” action), then it’s critical to ensure the user is truly interested in what the ad is saying. If so, the likelihood of that user following through on his click will dramatically increase. Advertisers need to consider post-click metrics that show what the user does after clicking on an ad: site dwell time, landing page bounce rates, the number of pages viewed, time spent on the site, and more. These data help the advertiser understand how to adjust an ad’s message and content to deliver the best possible results.

Across the industry, advertisers are beginning to recognize the value of metrics that demonstrate ads’ true effectiveness – not just the number of impressions or clicks. The industry-wide initiative, “Making Measurement Make Sense” (3MS), is making considerable strides in moving the industry from a straight ad-impression model to an ad-viewed model, which will only count ad impressions when they are seen. Nielsen and Facebook recently announced a plan to hold online advertising to the same standards as broadcast, using a “gross ratings points” model for campaign measurement. For this to work for advertisers, campaigns need to be measured by only counting ads end users actually see, interact with, and click on.

So what does the shift to New Metrics mean to the ad industry? It means that advertisers who look closely at user behavior – with pre- and post-click data that enables campaign optimization in near-real time – are getting more mileage out of their campaigns. Even as the currency for buying and selling remains – for the time being – attached to ad impressions and clicks, those impressions and clicks are growing more valuable by the day. Better metrics, after all, mean better ads, which in the end is good for the advertiser and a better experience for the end user.

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