Rethink Web Metrics

Online advertising hangs its hat on measurement — no other medium lets you count every single impression so precisely — but measurement has also been its downfall when it comes to display advertising. With display, most marketers and agencies accept the click as the end-all metric for measuring campaign effectiveness.

There are plenty who want to change that but are grasping for a metric that’s not a click but is like a click. They usually gussy these measurements up as “engagement,” implying that a banner ad is only effective if a consumer takes an action right then and there. This is wrong.

It’s high time the industry — and this means marketers and agencies in particular — move past the click and look at some metrics that actually prove display’s power. That means display ads have a branding value on their own, just like a print ad and out-of-home placement.

Consider KN Dimestore and Lotame found a significant lift in intent to recommend a product after users saw a display ad for that product. In the study, KN Dimestore polled consumers who were exposed and not exposed to several display campaigns. The end result was a 24-percent lift in likelihood to recommend from the group that had seen the ad.

All of the ads studied were either expandable rich media units or flash banners; none were static banners. Overall, rich media achieved a 34.4-percent lift in likelihood to recommend, with entertainment campaigns performing the highest. We’re all familiar with online ads for movies and TV shows where consumers can expand the unit to watch a preview. What we now know, based on these findings, is that consumers don’t have to click on the unit or even watch a video until the end for that ad to be effective. Just seeing that ad works on a branding level and gets them to share their enthusiasm for a brand.

The findings also reveal that when consumers exhibit a high likelihood to recommend, they exhibit very high scores in other brand metrics too. If we stay in the entertainment category, we find that likelihood to recommend is closely tied to intent to view. Consumers aren’t just talking about movies or TV shows with friends; they’re very likely to experience the show themselves. A high likelihood to recommend also correlates closely with ad recall, interaction rate and our old friend, click-through rate.

All of these metrics speak highly of the web’s power as a branding channel. “Intent to recommend” may sound complicated, but it’s just a long way of saying “brand loyalty.” Intent to recommend, ad recall and purchase intent; these are the metrics that drive branding online, and they’re the ones every marketer and agency should focus on. Clicks have their value, but focusing solely on that one metric puts marketers in a box. You can’t measure your branding efforts with a direct-response metric. It just doesn’t work that way.

These new metrics require more work to measure, that’s true. But once you have the right metrics, you’ll see how display ads are powerful enough to make consumers recommend products, TV shows, movies and brands to their friends. Sounds like brand marketing to me.

Andy Monfried is the CEO of Lotame, an audience data management provider.

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