Lotame released results from a Ford advertising campaign Monday. The year-long project, led by Harmelin Media for the Ford Dealer Association in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, analyzes click-through rates and purchase intent for rich media versus Flash ads based, in part, on social network data.
Catherine Collis, online media strategist at Harmelin Media supporting the Ford Dealer Association account in the Philadelphia area, wanted to test the impact of rich media ads versus flash-based ads. The campaign began in December. The target audience, split into three groups, viewed a variety of configurations that varied between rich media and Flash banner ads. "There's a lot of talk about how banners don't work, but I think that's oversimplifying the situation," she says.
The first group viewed all rich media ads; the second, three Flash ads followed by four rich media ads; and the third, three rich media ads followed by four Flash ads. "We varied the amount of rich media versus Flash ads, but did get people to engage more when we only served up rich media ads," Collis says.
The rich media ads targeting people interested in automobiles or business-related information, such as finance and news, "blew the flash creatives out of the water," says Joe Ponzio, Lotame analyst.
From January through July, Lotame -- which provides behavioral targeting and Web analytics for marketers -- delivered better average click-through rates and interaction rates with the ad. In fact, the campaign beat the average click-through rate by nearly 15%, outperforming in click interaction by 88% and delivering a 216% improvement compared with the average action yield. During this campaign, people who saw the ads were 20% more likely to buy a Ford vehicle during the next six months than a controlled group who had not.
People spend on average a little more than 12 seconds with the ad, up from 10.5 seconds in the beginning of the year. And while people interact with the banner, they also click through to the site. People interact with the banner slightly less compared with ads that ran last year, but about 23% are more likely to convent to a click after interacting with the banner, Collis says.
"People are in social networks to engage, but once they complete the task and remain in the network, if you serve them a compelling ad they will engage," Collis says.
Andy Monfried, founder and CEO at Lotame, says the campaign running on Bebo, Flixster and other social media sites contradicts the traditional theory that not enough data sits on social network sites to target consumers. "We're targeting the consumers with ads by mining social data, not contextual, search or behavioral data," he says.
Social network data -- which represents the "true person" -- is the least monetized but the most in supply, which makes it difficult to mine, according to Monfried. It's difficult to determine the most important pages, as well as the content produced or viewed, because of the sheer number of pages that people "blow through."
The Ford campaign, which also integrates behavioral targeting through Undertone Networks and Specific Media, integrates user-generated content and custom marketing profiles that the auto industry built. The code sits on every page, and publishers pass on non-PII data about consumer age, gender and ZIP code.
From the Web page pixel tags, Lotame knows when people produce or view content with any targeted keyword term. By building a custom audience, automotive dealers can target all 34-year-old females who live in North Carolina who have blogged about any type of Ford car.