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BizReport : Advertising : March 21, 2017

Expert: User engagement trumps viewability

Viewability - the placement of ads so that they will be seen - continues to be a strong force in the digital advertising space. But, according to one expert, viewability is not the holy grail of advertising. User engagement is.

by Kristina Knight

"At a metaphorical level, the move away from viewability (or other metrics like clicks, page views, etc.) to CPE is similar to the sabermetric or analytic revolution in baseball. Baseball had long relied on simple but outdated metrics like batting average, RBIs, stolen bases, etc. to evaluate and sign players, even though these metrics weren't very predictive of winning. The revolution ushered in by the As and Billy Beane stressed the importance of new metrics like on-base percentage and slugging percentage, which were more predictive of wins (and in the early days, a unique arbitrage opportunity)," said Chris Kraft, CEO, ShareRocket.

Like baseball and Billy Beane, basing an ad buy simple on how viewable an ad placement is takes away something more effective - how engaged the consumer is with the advertising content. So, how do advertisers begin moving toward more engagement-focused metrics?

"Research has identified a number of important engagement components (e.g., view time, time in exposure, shares, likes, comments, etc.)," said Kraft. "More universal agreement on which of these metrics is most predictive and useful will be the next step in CPE evolution; most likely to be accomplished through composite or aggregate measures. The current migration to programmatic for example, while scaling cost management, is having the unintended consequence of moving away from what advertisers are really after - attention and engagement with their target consumers."

Moving to a cost-per-engagement, or CPE, model would incentivize more engaging content, place little value on click-bait content, and reward consumers with more in-depth experiences in the digital space.

This trend, Kraft believes, is already being seen in the social space, where content is served to people based on past clicks, product searches, and other behavioral information.

"The traditional ad model, for example, has been one of a one-way monologue with consumers, pushing out messages to as many as could be economically reached (exposure, CPM). It took social media engagement (e.g., users on Facebook 50 minutes a day, actively commenting, sharing and liking) to bring back marketers' attention to what really matters," said Kraft. "Social media has demonstrated over and over again how consumers are now in control, and effectively marketing to them means meeting them on their terms - providing them something meaningful and valuable."

Tags: advertising, advertising viewability, Cost Per Engagement, ShareRocket, viewability trends

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