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The road to success in the digital sphere: Dwell on branding!

The road to success in the digital sphere: Dwell on branding!

As digital media battles for its share of the marketing mix, there are two key challenges faced by advertisers everywhere:

1) How to demonstrate the ROI that a company generates from online advertising.

2) How to communicate that ROI back to the boardroom in a compelling and convincing way.

Until now, click through rates (CTR) and number of impressions have dominated digital measurement and evaluation. Now, according to new research from Microsoft, it’s clear that a sea change needs to take place.

The Challenge

The current de facto measurement for digital advertising – CTR and impressions – is hard to benchmark alongside more traditional measures used by TV, print and radio etc. Although estimated opportunities to see (OTS) fall well short of what marketers should expect from any form of measurement in today’s real time environment, they are at the very least accepted and acknowledged. CTR’s and impressions by comparison are both less widely understood by a non-marketing audience, and are harder to compare and contrast against traditional forms of measurement.

Accordingly, for Microsoft, CTR’s, although key for direct response (DR) campaigns, have little value for brand campaigns.

Gone are the days (or they should be at least) that a simple click on an advert corresponds to ‘success’ for a brand advertiser. What part of a single click, that takes a split second, tells an advertiser how their target consumer has responded to, engaged with, or been affected (in any meaningful way) by an advert?

The Opportunity

Consider the fact that a brand spends thousands, even millions of dollars enlisting creatives to come up with colourful and imaginative story campaigns, told in an entertaining or insightful way. Then consider that despite this significant investment of time and resource, the brand chooses to measure the success of that creative in the digital environment using CTR and impressions. How does a brand understand what its creative work has achieved? How well has a consumer responded to the ads messages?

People may not click on brand advertising but they do spend time with it – in fact, on average, consumers are 25 times more likely to spend meaningful time on rich media ads than they are to actually click on a rich media ad (Eyeblaster, July 09), whilst the average time spent actively engaging with these types of ads in Asia Pacific is approximately 60 seconds – that is almost the equivalent of actively choosing to watch two 30 sec TV ads intently back to back.

Surely this engagement measure gives advertisers real insight into how compelling the output of all their creative efforts is? Creative work will always attract a greater attention span than the average campaign, and it’s becoming increasingly important given that if an ad resonates with an audience is more likely to also be adopted virally — further improving the longevity, kudos and reach of a campaign. In fact, data from IPSOS demonstrates that the success of an advert relies 75% on the creative, and 25% on its actual media scheduling.

In addition, when it comes to showcasing campaign performance, referring to the time spent with the ad is a much more familiar metric – online dwell scores (dwell time, multiplied by the rate at which that advert is engaged with) are that much better at resembling the trusted and familiar TV and radio measurement techniques that are used.

In fact, by using dwell scores, not only is it easier to compare and contrast digital brand campaigns with TV spots or radio slots, they also improve on these standards. Owing to increasingly available data from ad servers, dwell scores are measured in real-time, and are able to capture ALL exposures that are actively engaged (rather than passive viewing/listening audience panel estimates) allowing for quick campaign adjustments if required.

The Evidence – Microsoft ‘Dwell on Branding’ study

In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of a dwell score, Microsoft, Comscore and Eyeblaster conducted an in-depth analysis of twenty campaigns comparing the performance of high and low dwell campaigns. The study, which was recently honoured with the inaugural IAB Europe Research award, saw each campaign ran across the Microsoft Advertising network for six months, across multiple verticals such as finance, telecommunications and retail.

The results of the ‘Dwell on Branding’ study proved that greater online engagement (i.e. campaigns with higher dwell scores) lead to increased brand effects. Aggregated data from the study revealed that campaigns that achieved a higher dwell score deliver:

  • A higher number of branded search queries – 3x more efficient at stimulating branded search activity versus the lower dwell campaigns

  • An increased number of visits to the brand website - A 69% improvement in the campaigns effectiveness in increasing brand site visits

  • An increased number of engaged users on the brand site (increasing the numbers of page viewed and time spent there)
  • When comparing dwell scores to CTR’s – the majority of ad formats that achieve the highest total dwell scores achieve the lowest CTR’s, reinforcing the fact that as the tools and tactics to engage people online evolve, the click alone is not an adequate measure of campaign effectiveness for brands.

    In terms of verticals ads, the apparel and restaurant verticals enjoyed the highest dwell scores in APAC at 11.24% and 11.06% respectively. Electronics and gaming came close behind.

    What’s next?

    If a campaign is exposed to the right person with the right message the brand will enjoy the benefits.

    Agencies must start to educate their clients – or risk losing out to competitors who do – and brands in turn must embrace this new powerful measurement and advocate it in the boardroom.

    Dwell scores must also inform a brand advertiser’s choice of online implementation. Although rich media can be more expensive, combined with a strong creative, the ‘Dwell On Branding’ research shows that it has a huge influence on positive behaviour towards a brand, inspiring a move from brand recognition, to brand loyalty and affinity.

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