Posted in Trends

The road to consumer engagement

“There is still a school of thought that it [the internet] is a low-impact ad environment,” said eMarketer analyst David Hallerman. “With money tightening, people say, ‘How effective is it?’” It’s hard to be effective when all brands care about is ROI. In today’s economy, it’s hard to not emphasize the need to boost ROI for every campaign. But defining an ad’s impact by its click-throughs is not effective. Ideally, we should judge an ad by its engagement with the consumer. Engagement leads to interest which can ultimately lead to commerce. But can we change the way impact is measured?

I think the industry is starting to.

In a recent AdWeek article, the recession is credited for killing display ads due to their low click-through rate and measurability. With a click-through rate that barely approaches 1 percent, it’s easy to understand why CMOs everywhere are looking to cross display ads off from their 2009 budgets. This lack of measurability might lead to a complete rethinking of how image-based brands — the Coca-Colas, McDonald’s and Cloroxes of the world — approach online advertising.

Advertisers are turning to companies like Microsoft’s Atlas which boasts its Engagement Mapping tool as a way  to measure the impact of online ad campaigns by allocating credit to every single ad a user encounters, not just the ones they click on. To take it a step further, Atlas plans to layer demographic data onto its existing data, shedding light not just on which ads are seen but on who actually sees them. “That’s the missing piece,” said Young-Bean Song, senior director at Atlas Institute.

I agree, the person is viewing the ad is always a very important piece of the ad-effectiveness equation. But how engaging the ad is with the consumer should be top priority. Some companies are making strides to include engagement in the equation. For example a new startup, SnapAds, has created a system that dynamically adjusts the appearance of banner ads over time to maximize engagement. And it seems to work – a three day trial campaign for a recent film saw an increased clickthrough rate of 1922% over three days. SnapAds CEO, David Rusenko, credits their success by saying, “We tailor and optimize the look and feel of these ads for each person’s viewing, so the visual aspect in that message is relevant and attractive to them.”

As we can see, relevance leads to success for an advertiser. Are advertisers beginning to understand this? I think so. The accompanying chart showcases the amount of money spent on various marketing tactics during the economic crisis. Social Network Marketing saw a boost of 48% while traditional advertising like radio/TVs ads saw a decrease of 83%. While reach is important and can be effectively gained through online marketing, we are beginning to see how targeted marketing combined with effectiveness can yield successful results.





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