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For Display Ads, Being Seen Matters More than Being Clicked (comScore & Pretarget)

comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, and Pretarget, the intent targeting company, today released results of an online advertising study which found that ad viewability and hover time are more strongly correlated with conversions (defined as purchases and requests for information) than clicks or total impressions.


“Your ad being seen matters more than your ad being clicked – if you have a back-end conversion metric,” said Pretarget Founder Keith Pieper. “After all, what good is an ad that can’t be seen? It’s intuitive that an ad must be seen to make an impact, and it’s even more intuitive than someone hovering and engaging with an ad might convert, even absent a click.”


Research Findings Show Ad Hover Most Highly Correlated with Conversion


The research findings indicate that the traditional way of buying mass impressions and hoping for conversions (aka “spray and pray”) is not the most effective approach. The results showed that ad hover/interaction (correlation = 0.49) and viewable impressions (correlation = 0.35) had highest correlation with conversion, while gross impressions (correlation = 0.17) was significantly lower. Perhaps most interestingly, clicks (correlation = 0.01) had the lowest correlation with conversion, far under-performing all other metrics analyzed in the study. These findings suggest that advertisers and media planners ought to break their addiction to clicks and instead look to more meaningful metrics for evaluating campaign performance.


“The Pretarget study helps illuminate several critically important findings for the digital advertising community,” said Kirby Winfield, SVP of Corporate Development, comScore. “First, it once again demonstrates the perils of relying on click-throughs for measuring the performance of display ad campaigns, with this metric showing virtually zero correlation with total conversions. Secondly, it highlights why the viewable impression – which is now easily measurable through vCE – is significantly more meaningful than the unvalidated impression. Finally, this study shows why other non-click metrics of engagement, such as interaction or hovering, may be much more important in evaluating campaign performance than the click ever was. It’s time to start measuring the impact of campaigns using metrics that really matter, not just the ones that are most easily measured.”


The Pretarget analysis supports several third party studies with consistent conclusions. MediaMind “2009 Benchmark Report” released in July 2010 found that “on average, increasing Dwell [hover] from 5% to 15%, increases conversion rate by 45%, from 0.4% to 0.6%.” Casale Media’s 2011 “Ad Visibility Report,” found that “ads appearing above the fold were 6.7x more effective at generating conversions than those appearing below the fold.”


Pretarget previously found that approximately 89 percent of display ads on its network load above the fold or appear after a user scrolls down, creating an opportunity for a user to see the banner. Pretarget’s position paper is available for download at http://www.pretarget.com


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