The Emergence of Engagement

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“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Dan Grigorovici is CEO at AdMobius.

If brands and agencies are ever expected to invest significant dollars in mobile then it's time for the industry to get serious about measurement. While it's true that progress has been made in this area, most of the energy has been misspent by prioritizing the same metrics as online - namely clicks. By focusing on clicks alone the industry does itself an incredible disservice.

Smartphones are highly interactive devices. Instead of clicks, engagement should be the metric of choice. From watching a video to making a call or downloading an app, there are many different ways that users can engage with ads and each of these ways should be leveraged and measured.

In its recent report, "Digital Ad Engagement: An Industry Overview and Reconceptualization,” the IAB defined three types of engagement: ad engagement, content engagement and audience engagement.  Focusing on ad engagement, as the IAB suggests, the first key to engaging a user is making the content of the advertisement relevant to your audience. Don't show ads for a lawn mower to someone living in a Manhattan apartment. If the ads aren't relevant you won't have anything to measure - clicks or otherwise. While this may seem like advertising 101, it's amazing how many still believe that you can't target audiences on mobile. The truth is that not only does audience segmentation exist on mobile, but it's rapidly improving and may soon exceed capabilities found online.

The second key to engagement is to give your audience the right creative with which to engage. Video and rich media ads provide numerous opportunities for engagement. Using these ad formats in combination with the inherent capabilities of a smartphone (accelerometers, gps, click-to-call, etc.) enables the creation of compelling creative. Bring location data into an ad for a coffee shop to highlight nearby locations, display a scrollable image gallery to allow users to view multiple products or advertise a new car by creating a three dimensional model that users can rotate in space. The possibilities are nearly endless; it’s time to start taking advantage of them.

The last key to engagement is measurement and optimization. With all of the different points of interaction that are possible, not all of those interactions are created equal. Therefore, differing values based on the specific interaction should be assigned. For instance, in the above car advertisement example, values could be assigned in this way:

  • 1 Point: A user clicks on the ad and is taken to a landing page
  • 3 Points: A user spends 5 seconds rotating the three dimensional car model
  • 5 Points: A user activates a click-to-call link to schedule a test drive

Using a normalized, point-based measurement system, we can generate a much more meaningful understanding of how an ad campaign is performing the user’s intent. Once intent is discerned ad creative can be optimized to increase engagement and targeting criteria can be refined to reach audiences more likely to engage.

Advertisers are already warming up to ad formats that allow for the tracking of engagement. In its most recent report, Nexage claimed 19% growth per month in rich media ad impressions, adding that rich media and video ads now account for 26% of all traffic on their exchange. Look for that number to go even higher this year as more brands push their agencies to develop and optimize mobile campaigns using engagement metrics. As that number continues to grow, so, to, will mobile advertising.

Follow Dan Grigorovici (@dangrig) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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