In its latest effort to enhance display ad performance, ad network VideoEgg has adopted a new system for optimizing ad placement based mainly on how often and for how long people interact with ads.
The new method, called AttentionRank, builds on VideoEgg's AdFrames platform, which charges advertisers only if a user rolls over one of its rich media units and watches it for a brief time. The typical cost-per-engagement (CPE) is 50 cents.
What makes AttentionRank different from other ad networks' approaches to deciding when and where to run display ads, according to VideoEgg, is that it keys on engagement and time spent rather than on clicks. (Secondary factors such as click-through rates also figure into optimization, however.)
By focusing on how well ads captured users' attention, rather than just impressions, VideoEgg promises to improve the effectiveness of the video-centric campaigns it specializes in. Based on testing in three campaigns so far, the company says AttentionRank -- which scores placements based on usage data collected -- has increased time spent with ads by an average of 15%.
Rather than offering AttentionRank as an add-on feature, VideoEgg is incorporating the technology into all campaigns that run across its network of more than 400 sites and applications.
Two interactive ad experts agreed that AttentionRank represents a potential improvement over optimization techniques used by most ad networks. "I'm happy to see this out there and attached to a big platform, because, while a lot of this data is available, it's not utilized to the level it should be in the industry," said Adam Kasper, senior vice president and director of digital media at Havas' Media Contacts unit. "This is a step to make that right."
Nate Elliott, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, added that VideoEgg's latest initiative, aimed at increasing the efficiency of display advertising, was also suited to the times. "Budgets are getting tighter and every dollar spent has to do more," he said. "If this helps advertisers get more bang for the buck, that will only be a good thing for advertisers and publishers."
He noted that VideoEgg would likely be able to refine AttentionRank over time based on different campaign variables such as ad size and page content.
Premium display advertising has been hit hard by the economic downturn as marketers have turned to search advertising and other performance-based formats viewed as more accountable and cost-effective. According to the most recent Interactive Advertising Bureau/PricewaterhouseCoopers ad report, display ad spending fell more than 4% in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago.
The IAB and Online Publishers Association have also undertaken efforts this year to introduce new display ad units and to improve the quality of online ad creative to draw more brand advertising dollars to the Web. VideoEgg said AttentionRank will optimize only for ad placement within Web pages and among sites, not for creative attributes.
Last month, VideoEgg introduced a new ad unit dubbed Twig geared to blogging sites and appearing as a persistent strip across the top or bottom of the screen as readers scroll down the page.