Mobile Advertising: Engagement Then Click-Throughs

Mobile Advertising: Engagement Then Click-Throughs

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Dan Grigovici of AdMobius wrote an interesting article for AdExchanger recently that talked about the emergence of engagement. His article was written in response to the IAB’s newest report on Digital Ad Engagement and raised an interesting theory on the topic of measurement and optimization.

I’ll agree with him that, “using a point-based measurement system, we can generate a much more meaningful understanding of how an ad campaign is performing.” This system awards points for clicks then engagement then action. I’d argue points should be awarded for engagement first THEN clicks and finally action. Here’s why.

There is a razor thin line between love and hate in a mobile environment. Not all of us were born mobile, so an intrusive ad, an unresponsive font size, or even having to click through four or five mobile pages of content to read a single article can lead to churn. Most mobile users probably wish mobile ads would just go away. However, since mobile advertising is what continues to drive a bulk of ad innovation, it’s safe to say it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So we as ad tech providers need to evolve our approach to help publishers create the most user-friendly experience possible. Even if an ad is reaching the right audience, what’s equally important, if not more important, is that the mobile user experience is preserved. We need to stop making the click-through “king." Although it is the easiest metric to measure, the click continues to ruin the mobile experience.

Dan’s system suggests we award one point for a click through to a landing page; three points for an interaction with a 3D model on that landing page; and five points for activating a click-to-call link after that engagement. I’d argue this thinking is antiquated. Engagement should (and can) happen natively, and then give the power to the reader to make a click and take action.

1 Point - User Interaction Without Leaving the Page

We’re so eager to measure clicks we forget readers don’t want to be taken away from content. When they are, it’s often because they clicked accidentally, and even more frustrating occurrence than having to scroll through multiple, ad-laced mobile pages. This reflects negatively on both the brand for serving the ad and the publisher for not providing a better mobile experience. So if we’re awarding points for ads that get people to click away from the content, without even confirming that they wanted to click in the first place, are we measuring anything worthwhile?

Ad companies first need to offer units that enable clicks without leaving the content. That means we award one point for a click to engage in an ad unit that doesn’t automatically take the reader away from the content. In this case a click represents enough interest in the creative to move eyes away from the content. The reader acknowledges the ad content without being burdened.

This requires some creativity on the side of the ad designer and ad provider. Units shouldn’t simply ‘exit’ when clicked. In a swipe-based culture, clicks can still be measured, but ‘drag’ or another movement (shake, tilt, et. al.) are the metrics that show true intent and engagement, and more importantly are no longer a huge challenge to measure.

3 Points - Click Affirmation

If the ad is truly creative, and has connected with the reader in the right place and right time, the reader will be moved to action. It shouldn’t be assumed that the reader is ready to move away from the content she or he was reading, but if they are, then at this point they should be given the option to click.

New means of click affirmation are making their way to market. One way of achieving this is through a flip ad unit that provides further engagement options without exiting the content. Other options include Google’s mobile ad features to fight accidental clicks.

In this system, the click now has a higher value because the user makes a conscious decision to engage THEN click. The engaging ad, which the user chose to interact with, created such a connection that it compelled the user to click. In this situation, the advertiser and publisher also benefit by giving power to the reader, an ad opt-in rather than an opt-out. Less efficient? Perhaps, but successful mobile advertising will continue to be more about efficacy than efficiency.

5 Points - User Follow-Through

The final point level when action is taken after the click. In the other system, there’s no way to guarantee engagement following the click. The reader is asked to take a leap of faith away from something they wanted to read. In the mobile environment, a click through is such a commitment that it should be the ultimate or penultimate action. In the ‘engage then click’ system, the reader has fully committed to the content exit and should be more likely to take the final action.

When it comes to the final activity, here too I would encourage publishers and brands to create a native follow-through experience, one that doesn’t leave readers waiting (long) for a new screen to load, or a new app window to appear. This could be a mobile responsive microsite with a click-to-call function, or the aforementioned flip feature. It is at this point a brand has achieved the coveted action based on engagement without leaving a user frustrated or generating a negative connotation that might otherwise have resulted from a standard exit.

As even more readers move to mobile to consume content, advertisers will benefit by first focusing on engagement alongside content. Click-throughs should be a secondary or even tertiary goal for ads, behind preserving the native mobile environment. If advertisers can get a reader to engage first, then the follow through should be much easier.

Contrbuited by Rob Cromer, CEO of Adcade

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