For content marketers, an alternative to the CTR

This article was written by Sloan Gaon, CEO of PulsePoint.

Brands have long known the importance of evaluating campaigns for both brand impact and tangible performance goals. Content marketing has helped brands to create compelling messages, while programmatic technologies have helped to deliver those stories to the right people and achieve campaign goals.

Click through rate (CTR) remains the most used metric in measuring the success of online advertising – top, middle and bottom funnel campaigns alike. But investments in content marketing continue to rise, to $44 billion according to the Custom Content Council, as do consumers’ appetites. Ninety percent of consumers find custom content useful, and 78 percent believe that the organizations providing it want to build good relationships with them. Here, as with branding and awareness campaigns, CTR is not the best way to measure success.

New, sophisticated technologies have helped the ad ecosystem to solve for previous measurement and tracking gaps so that we can determine return on engagement (ROE) and not just clicks. Now our industry must shift the measure of success for content campaigns, from conversions to meaningful conversations. It’s time we moved from immediate return on investment to a lifetime return on engagement.

So what measures will replace ROI?

Welcome Return on Engagement (ROE)

A focus on Return on Engagement, instead of the immediate ROI, introduces a new way to look at the performance of a campaign. The more you engage, the more you’re getting to know your consumers’ opinions, wants and needs. You’re not only learning about them, you’re learning from them. These insights allow you to target messages better and track your engagement behavior to understand where you’re spending your time and effort and if it’s working or can be improved.

Shift away from the purchasing funnel toward the consumer engagement loop

Traditional sales funnels move a potential purchaser from awareness to consideration to interest to action as a “push” model. The new engagement loop focuses on continual awareness and the interactions and conversations that lead to conversions. It’s a continuous engagement cycle that moves the marketing industry away from focusing on “getting that click” to focusing on time spent and deeper interactions, drawing consumers toward your brand and enlisting them as loyalists and evangelists. Measuring engagement ultimately builds the conversation so that can evolve and become cyclical – not just a one-off action that ends with a click.

Digiday BCS_Consumer Engagement Graphic

Scaling ROE

To deliver meaningful brand engagement to the right consumer at scale, marketers will need to integrate content programs into real-time distribution channels to ensure precise delivery to an audience that grows more fragmented by the second.

Programmatic buying has given marketers new tools to measure what matters like ad recall and brand awareness lift and address fragmentation. Knowing the right tools for measuring and ensuring you understand the results is just as vital for success. Some of the most common ROE metrics to track success through the engagement loop are:

In-View Impressions: 50 percent or more of the ad is in-view for at least one continuous second

In-View Time: Average length of time the ad is in-view

Interaction Time: Average length of time the ad is interacted with by the user

Interactions: User purposely interacts with the ad

Hover rate: Average length of time a user hovers their mouse over an ad

Amplification: Average times users share ads with their social networks

This space is continuing to evolve, with programmatic and content marketing starting to collide in a big way. Why? Brands need high-impact, meaningful content to engage with their consumers in an efficient and scaleable way. They can’t fake higher funnel brand awareness, engagement and affinity and therefore are turning to metrics like dwell time, brand lift and consideration, to gauge success. Brands need to scale their campaigns in the same matter that display campaigns are by applying data-driven programmatic technology.

As these two worlds merge, ROE has become the new campaign metric. With advertisers’ behaviors shifting, it only makes sense their success metrics shift as well. There must be a better understanding of ROE and a new world of delivering improved content could come next. Ad tech is evolving the tools to let brands have their cake and eat it too, making engagement a key component to this future.

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