April 26th, 2012 by Judith Aquino

For marketers who are still measuring an advertisement’s success based on the number of clicks or total impressions it receives, here is more data that suggests those are unreliable metrics. Earlier this week, comScore and Pretarget, an intent targeting company, released a joint study which showed that ad viewability and hover time are more strongly correlated with conversions, i.e., purchases and requests for information, than clicks or total impressions.

“This study shows why other non-click metrics of engagement, such as interaction or hovering, may be much more important in evaluating campaign performance than the click ever was,” said Kirby Winfield, senior vice president of corporate development at comScore. “It’s time to start measuring the impact of campaigns using metrics that really matter, not just the ones that are most easily measured.”

Pretarget analyzed 263 million impressions over nine months across 18 advertisers in various verticals. The company used comScore’s validated Campaign Essentials tool to collect viewability and hover data and a digital signal processor to collect click and cookie-based conversion data.

Pretarget then did a correlation analysis of the data that included gross impressions, views (defined as 75 percent of an ad being visible within the screen above the fold or after scrolling), the time the ad was viewed, total hover or engagement time, clicks, and conversions.

The results showed that ad hover/interaction and viewable impressions correlated with conversions at 0.49 and 0.35, respectively, whereas gross impressions and clicks had lower correlations at 0.17 and 0.01, respectively.

According to the study’s researchers, traditional display ad impression measurement and reporting only verifies the number of ads that were sent to a user’s browser. Some ads may not be visible on a user’s screen unless he or she scrolls down, reducing the chances that it was ever seen, for example.

The idea that consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they hover over an ad rather than click on it is interesting and makes sense if by hovering, they quickly receive information about the product.

The bottom line is marketers who are still measuring click-through-rates have to work harder to justify their use of this metric.

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