Searching for the Next Big Metric

May 17, 2013
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  Digital display metrics have long been a point of frustration for those of us in the industry. Publishers seek reliable measurements to prove their placements are worth the agency’s attention and the client’s precious ad spend. Agencies are in a perpetual state of reporting. Analysis based on anything other than the click and clients are unsure about how to interpret the data. The time has come–it’s time to get beyond the click. Once and for all. We’ve all talked about it. Talked about the promise to deliver new, more meaningful insight, because we know the data needs to mean something. But, alas, one part hesitancy and two parts comfort have kept us stuck in the click rut. But why? Why can’t we take that one small step for advertisers and one giant leap for ad-kind? Blame it on the search. One big reason we’ve grown accustomed to focusing so much of our attention on clicks and click through rates is because of our friend and foe—search. Why? Because it makes sense. We’re preemptively buying keywords that people will (hopefully) actively seek out. We only get the bill when clicks have occurred. With search, users are well on their way to the final destination of conversion at the time of the click. There is utility built into paid search results. Users want relevancy, we pay to provide that to them. It works. It’s great for everyone. Why don’t we just spend all our money on search, wrap up those clicks in a nice package with a big bow on top and call it a day? Simply put, there’s one problem—only 4% of users’ time spent online is spent with search. What about the 96% of time spent elsewhere? That’s where our good buddy display comes in. The click is comfortable. Listen… we get it. Clicks are a safe measurement. They are easy to explain. They are common to most all ad types, making our lives easier reporting for our clients or management teams. They are largely understood by everyone. It’s time to break out of that comfort zone if we want to get to the next step in true digital campaign measurement and optimization. In the world of rich media, there are far more valuable metrics that should be taken into consideration. Why spend countless creative and strategic hours implementing great videos, social functionality or other interactivity into display ad units only to lead off with clicks? Yeah—we don’t know either. We have to remember, people visit sites for a reason. They are clear to turn on cell phones and other electronic devices—the have arrived at their destination. 9 times out of 10 (or more) users aren’t looking to click away from their destination. And you can bet, they aren’t looking to click-through to our website. They are, however, in a place to consume the content of our display ads. Users are clicking less and less all the time. If we’re reporting and measuring solely based on clicks, how can we prove ROI? Digital display units have to be treated as a digital touch-point just as .coms and Facebook pages. We can capture users’ attention for one moment as they quickly zigzag seemingly across the Web. We’ll be taking a deeper dive into the new metrics for digital display in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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