Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

A media owner’s plea to make campaign measurement a bit more interesting

These articles have been written by the latest cohort of the Practice Makes UnPerfect programme – a course that helps women find and finesse their public voices.

By Michaela Rairata, Client Solutions Account Director, Mobsta

When I started (fell into) my media career, I was in awe of all the things happening behind the scenes in the world wide web that I’d been completely oblivious to. In particular, all the different technologies available to gather data, so that people like me could produce interesting insights. If you wanted to track something or figure something out, anything, my guess is there’s absolutely a technology out there to do it. Some are more transparent than others, of course! 

It was all very exciting! Lots of jargon, lots of buzzwords, everything was “real-time” and “revolutionary” and I was wide-eyed, curious and loving it! And then the campaigns rolled in… the data came in… but people remained bizarrely focused on how many clicks there were. 

Our industry is obsessed with CTR. I’ve had clients asking me to explain why their CTR decreased by 0.01% on this report compared to last week. We all crave CTR benchmarks, even if it’s not even the main KPI. This is tangible and easy to explain, but it’s also boring. Not to mention, unrealistic. Who even clicks on ads? Google has stated that 50% of ad clicks are accidental. So, only 50% of the 0.1% clicked because they actually wanted to. Sometimes the clicks are so low that it’s difficult to bring out any insights, and for me, the insights you draw is the best part of my job.

There’s so much data we have access to and so many different stories we could tell from the campaigns we run, but we hold these insights hostage because we’re all after more clicks. So sometimes we may be optimising towards the wrong areas, publishers, locations or types of users for that elusive engagement, and we could be missing out on the consumers brands really want.

If you’re a luxury car brand selling aspirations and an exclusive lifestyle, knowing that it could take months or years before a conversion, what does a 0.12% CTR even mean in the grand scheme of things? Would you then discount users or whole locations just because they didn’t click during a 3-week campaign? Or want to completely skew delivery towards a few publishers just because these have high CTR? There’s a famous study about marshmallows and delayed gratification leading to better future outcomes, and clicks are the marshmallows on the table in display advertising.

I don’t click on display ads but that doesn’t mean I’m not the right consumer. I remember brands and products from ads that are interesting and those I’ve actually seen. Now, that last bit sounds like viewability, but to make a digital campaign successful in the real world, there needs to be a bigger emphasis on time. 

IPG Media Lab, Integral Ad Science and Cadreon conducted a joint study which showed that time-in-view is “king”! One of the key takeaways from this study was “When it comes to moving the dial on ad effectiveness, the number of pixels in view is not the driving factor – how long consumers have to see the ad is.” The research showed an 8% change in ad recall when the ad was in-view for 4 seconds, rising to 17% at 7 seconds, compared to just 3% at the MRC standard. It’s fascinating to read that we can make an impact even when we’re not pushing people to click. 

Publishers have also taken advantage of a combination of different metrics to prove the effectiveness of advertising. The Telegraph moved on from impressions and clicks, and started to use a combination of 11 metrics, including time-in-view, to qualify user attention and this has led to a 24% year-on-year increase in average campaign price since it’s introduction. This is pretty good going when we’ve been in a pandemic and overall marketing budgets decreased globally. 

IPG, IAS and The Telegraph have proven there’s more to campaigns than just clicks. When we move away from clicks, we work towards metrics that seem to have more real-world applications and are more in line with how people behave. As we move into even more grown up and exciting times for digital, it’s time to bin the CTR once and for all.