See And Be Seen

According to a new study from comScore and Pretarget, ad viewability and hover time are more strongly correlated with conversions (defined as purchases and requests for information) than clicks or total impressions.

Pretarget Founder Keith Pieper opines “Your ad being seen matters more than your ad being clicked... what good is an ad that can’t be seen... It’s intuitive that... someone hovering and engaging with an ad might convert, even absent a click... “

The study analyzed 263 million impressions over nine months across 18 advertisers in numerous verticals. The study used used:

  • comScore validated Campaign Essentials™ (vCE) to collect viewability and hover data
  • A DSP to collect click and cookie-based conversion data.
  • A Pearson correlation analysis of the data, including gross impressions, “views,” time in-view, hover/engagements and total hover/engagement time, clicks and conversions

Traditional display ad impression measurement and reporting simply verifies the number of ads that were sent by an ad server to a user’s browser. This way of counting impressions does not ensure that the ad ever rendered within a browser, says the report. In addition, ads can load below the fold, which means that most users will probably never see the ad unless they scroll down.

The research findings indicate that the traditional way of buying mass impressions and hoping for conversions (aka “spray and pray”) is not the most effective approach. The results showed that:

  • Ad hover/interaction (correlation = 0.49) and viewable impressions (correlation = 0.35) had highest correlation with conversion
  • Gross impressions (correlation = 0.17) was significantly lower
  • Clicks (correlation = 0.01) had the lowest correlation with conversion, far under-performing all other metrics analyzed in the study.

Kirby Winfield, SVP of Corporate Development, comScore, notes that “... (the) study... illuminates several critically important findings for the digital advertising community... demonstrating the perils of relying on click-throughs for measuring the performance of display ad campaigns... it highlights why the viewable impression, measurable through vCE, is significantly more meaningful than the unvalidated impression... (and it) shows why other non-click metrics of engagement, such as interaction or hovering, may be much more important in evaluating campaign performance than the click ever was... “

The analysis supports several third party studies with consistent conclusions:

  • MediaMind “2009 Benchmark Report” released in July 2010 found that “on average, increasing Dwell [hover] from 5% to 15% increases conversion rate by 45%, from 0.4% to 0.6%.”
  • Casale Media’s 2011 “Ad Visibility Report,” found that “ads appearing above the fold were 6.7x more effective at generating conversions than those appearing below the fold.”

Pretarget previously found that approximately 89% of display ads on its network load above the fold or appear after a user scrolls down, creating an opportunity for a user to see the banner.

N.B. The Making Measurement Make Sense defines “in-view” as 50%+ of the pixels of an ad being visible in the browser, and comScore vCE adheres to this definition for its typical definition of “in-view”. The Pretarget studies, however, used a more conservative in-view requirement of 75% visibility.

To find additional information from comScore, please visit here, or to download the Pretarget position paper, visit here.



3 comments about "See And Be Seen".
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  1. Billing paradise from billingparadise, May 2, 2012 at 7:28 a.m.


    If a visitor is hovering for a long time, there may be a 100% possibility in the conversion.

    in our case many of the visitors coming for billingparadise( and they are filling the request form once they reached 10min of time in the sites.

  2. Nick D from ___, May 2, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.

    The surprising thing to me, having seen this research touted around quite a bit, is that the correlations are actually quite low. Viewable impressions, in particular, show a surprisingly low correlation with conversions, at 0.35.

    We can see that the results make sense, intuitively, but with data like that, I'm a little surprised at the claims being made of the research!

  3. Danny Kourianos from mediaFORGE, May 2, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.

    This is great validation for something we've known at mediaFORGE for some time which is that ad engagement is the best metric for optimizing for consumer behavior. Even by focusing on "above the fold" only inventory you're still going to have trouble scaling your campaign. But paying only on engagement or post-engagement attribution you're guaranteed your ad was viewed and had meaningful impact regardless of placement.

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