Collective Discusses AMP Platform’s New Engagement Metrics And Above-The-Fold Targeting

CollectiveLast week, Collective announced new engagement metrics capabilities for AMP 3.0, its “its network administration, audience targeting, and reach extension platform for buy-side and sell-side ad networks.” Read the release.

Collective’s SVP of Tech Sales & Client Services, Andrew Kraft, discussed the platform’s new tracking capabilities with Is the new attribution offering in response to your agency partners or are you being pro-active? Anecdotally from here, it seems that agencies are still predominantly reporting CTR as a key success metric.

This technology has been available exclusively on The Collective Network, so we know that advertisers value it. With regard the industry moving toward attribution measurement, the evolution has been gradual, but brand advertisers in particular are looking past CTR as the primary indicator or an advertisement’s success.

Collective’s engagement metrics solution measures interactions (clicks, click-thrus, mouseovers), views, and average view time on all add units, including non-rich media standard units such as JPEGs and GIFs, for about a year. This new piece of software has been built so that it can integrate to both the AMP for Publishers sell-side and AMP for Advertisers demand-side analytics, targeting, and media buying systems. Built as a way to address the dying value of the rapidly disappearing clickthru rates – along with studies questioning the value of the clicker overall – the system was originally rolled out only to the Collective Network, which has been offering these metrics to advertisers for the last year.

With more and more agencies looking for other metrics, the Collective Network saw a greater and greater desire for these metrics. After a year of battle-testing the system, Collective’s Technology Solutions group has now made these metrics available to its technology clients – both buy-side and sell-side networks – to integrate into their own offerings.

What’s your view on why brand marketers are slow to move dollars online? Attribution would appear to be one important key, but what else is getting in the way?

Attribution of offline purchases to online marketing is certainly another such reason, but not the only one by a long shot. There are a number of reasons, the greatest of which is probably simple inertia. Big institutions have been built around the traditional media ecosystem and its economics. There is also a learning curve for some traditional brand marketers. We hear from our agency partners that some of their online clients are asking for gross ratings point equivalents for online.

And it’s only recently that an advertiser could buy targeted audiences at scale. A major brand marketer like J&J doesn’t want to reach “the right audience anywhere”, because environment matters. For direct response, it might be fine to reach an intender anywhere they are, but for those seeking to influence brands, the quality and type of content in which the ad sits matters. I, for one, am more likely to have a positive reaction to a J&J ad when I’m on a high-end site than if I saw it on Joe’s Garage Shop page. The last thing a major marketer wants is for me to remember their ad as “that ad I saw on some Jersey Shore TV show fan site”.

As brand marketers are finding the right user in the right content, rather than exchanges that just find those users anywhere, they are also looking to break away from the Pandora’s box of metrics that the direct response advertisers have opened. Rich Media has been measuring engagement in a number of ways – but rich media is only a small percentage of ads shown. In order to capture the brand dollars, we needed metrics with which brand marketers could identify.

First came the interaction. Clicks are a measure of how often someone is willing to leave the content that they have explicitly sought and follow the lure of an ad. When on “long tail”, the draw of content is not particularly strong. When on premium content, that click rate naturally drops, because the user would rather read that which they sought. That said, there are many studies that said that the user’s eyes follow their mouse – so adding mouseovers to clicks and clickthrus meant that a better measure of the brand interaction could be made.

Then came views. While it was important to ensure that the ad was in the viewable area of the browser, the real value was the view time. Above the fold and below the fold don’t matter in the long run, as long as the ad is in the viewable area of the browser for an appropriate amount of time. This is especially important for pulling dollars online from offline. A brand marketer that realizes that they can reach users at a lower cost per thousand views online than offline – and yet still be in front of the users for an average of 30 seconds or more – are more likely to bring dollars over.

Given the positive interaction between search and display, can Collective’s attribution solution track the viewthroughs and effect between the two digital channels? If not, any plans here to marry search with display through AMP and attribution modeling?

Collective’s AMP does measure interaction between search and display. Using the AMP Audience Analytics system, special attribution pixels are created and distributed to the client to use in their search marketing. The results of display ads are then analyzed to see where the users who viewed, clicked, interacted, or acted in response to an ad also viewed the company’s search campaigns. This functionality has been available since the release of AMP3 several months ago.

In the release, you say that Collective is the only platform that can assess if an ad is “within the viewable portion of a user’s screen.” But, there are others that can do above-the-fold targeting. What’s the difference with Collective’s solution for above-the-fold, in particular?

Above-the-fold targeting is done in two ways today. The most popular way is to have the site owners only run the tags on those placements that are coded to be in the upper portion of a page. This is an inexact science, as for certain screen resolutions, that above-the-fold placement is actually outside the viewable area of the browser. That said, it is usually general accepted that if on the average screen resolution, an ad is in the viewable area upon page load, it is above the fold, and every publisher has placements that are within these windows spatially. The other method is to serve a rich media unit, and let that rich media unit determine real-time if the ad is in the viewable area or not – only displaying ‘above-the-fold guaranteed creative’ if the ad is in the appropriate placement. Collective’s AMP actually analyzes all placements, not just rich media placements, to determine the location of the ad.

What we have found is often what publishers call above-the-fold is not so. AMP Platform clients can now analyze their inventory – and when too much of a publisher’s inventory is below the fold, remove that publisher from the network or ad spend. In this way, the metrics are not just for reporting to advertisers, but also for helping to manage affiliate and audience extension partnerships.

Another key difference between what AMP is doing verses other technologies, is that we track the difference between the “initially” above the fold view as well as the “cumulative” above the fold view, as most ads become viewable after user interaction; largely scrolling and and down the page.

By John Ebbert

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  1. Andrew – congratulations on the launch. We are big, big believers in engagement as a display metric as well. I would expect you’ll see good adoption of AMP within the sell side; we have seen a number of our agency clients use engagement data to power alternative pricing for display. And you’re certainly well positioned given your excellent network track record.

    From our perspective, Collective joining the analytics fray is a nice affirmation. Specifically, AdXpose tracks whether an ad started above or below the fold, whether it was scrolled into view, dwell time within the ad, the time the ad was viewable, and the time at which it again became un-viewable, among other metrics. Also, AdXpose determines in real time whether an ad is in the viewable portion of the page *regardless of screen resolution*. No need to rely on averages.

    That said, great Q&A, looking forward to more from you guys.

  2. Nice perspective Andrew and a well written piece.