Emerging digital formats require fresh approaches to success evaluation – and conversational advertising is a case in point, writes Cavai UK’s Commercial Director, Dan Jones.
Each time a new form of digital media comes along, how long does it take for appropriate metrics to be considered to ensure that measurement and attribution approaches are fit for purpose? How long should it take? Should the new format or channel bring the metrics to the party? Who decides? And when should benchmarks be set?
Remember when it was all so easy – when it was just web pages and we simply considered ‘hits’. Then dynamic banners came along and we dined out on CTRs for years. CTR was the only required metric. It was unassailable. But then when video emerged, online, the industry was forced to consider the average percentage of video viewed so that the brand value of the three-dimensional asset could be understood in terms of time spent.
We need to talk
The emergent conversational advertising channel is another, very recent example. It is important to understand, before we start, what conversational advertising is. It’s a decision-tree-based, highly creative ad technology, enabling consumers to have an interaction with a brand in a clickable display ad, with dialogue.
The user-clicks that occur within the ad are intentional and specific, and performed by real humans. They create real engagement. The interaction can be helpful and also fun for the user, as well as highly valuable for the advertiser brand. Ask the consumer questions and deliver what they want: Simple, elegant and powerful stuff.
This fast-growing type of interactive display advertising is an increasingly popular choice for a wealth of globally recognised brands – Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft to name but a few. Marketers can look well beyond clickthrough rate and instead consider more exciting and important factors such as dwell time, and what ‘insights’ can be gleaned from the click-interactions within the dialogue itself. The real qualitative value of conversational advertising then becomes apparent.
Yes, that’s all very well, but what is the clickthrough rate of conversational ads? This is a persistent question that continues to be asked. Is it a relevant question to ask? Probably to some degree, but it’s not the most important, nor the most relevant, question.
Users tend not to click on display ads much these days. So to give them everything they want and need within the ad unit itself might be a more successful approach as it’s user-centric. Therefore, by default, fresh formats with new associated metrics need to be taken into account.
When you’re trying to revolutionise the media industry, as well as the users’ overall experience of online advertising, the back-end evaluation of an emerging format needs to be different from the status quo in order to accommodate and reflect the strength of said emerging format, at the front-end.
Aggregated time spent in-unit with the brand; conversations initiated and completed; number of qualified users engaged; quality of post-engagement users landing on-site; the list goes on...
Brave new world
So upon whom is this incumbent need to adopt new and wider forms of metrics or measurements in order to evaluate appropriately? There’s a fluffy answer that says it should fall upon the combined effort of the entire media industry – agency, client, publisher and the solution provider. There is perhaps a much quicker answer – principally the solution provider itself must help with the debate. Hence this piece.
Indeed, the increasingly popular format of conversational advertising goes far beyond a simple consideration of 'views' or the humble 'click'. Conversational ads generate multidimensional engagements, and so their measurement and evaluation is necessarily three-dimensional; and both qualitative and quantitative in nature. For instance, agencies and brands must consider things like number of interactions; dwell-time; quantity of 'conversation' nodes; completed engagement; and post-engagement conversions, to name but a few. Considerations such as the number of conversations started, and where people start and drop off – not to mention the ‘insights’ you can glean from the conversation – all need to be taken into account to ensure effective measurement, attribution and evaluation of ‘success’.
The question that remains to be posed is how any emerging solution should be evaluated. The answer to this question will stimulate necessary change, in order that agencies can deliver relevant, successful, creatively innovative and data-rich campaigns for their advertising brands.