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Performance metrics that really matter


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In a world full of innovative formats and incredible creatives, does a simple ‘click’ really tell us what we want to know? Silverbullet's Billy Port shares his view

Click-through rate (CTR) is one of the most common performance metrics throughout the digital media landscape. Essentially, it allows an advertiser to understand how many consumers have seen an ad, and clicked on it. Useful, right? Simple, effective and says what it does. However, in a world full of innovative formats and incredible creatives, does a simple ‘click’ really tell us what we want to know? After all, how many ads have you accidentally clicked on? How many bots are designed to solely click on ads? How many ads have you engaged with, yet not taken action? We need to explore how we can challenge and expand the current performance metric paradigm to go beyond CTR and incorporate attention and engagement metrics. 

I’m not pushing CTR out of the equation, at all. However, its importance sits only within the context of other business metrics. It is just one piece of a very big picture. Think of it in a physical world for one second: I walk into a store, browse the products but walk out empty handed. Great for brand awareness, not so great for customer loyalty or securing a purchase.

Let’s hit pause for a second and decide what needs to be left behind, and what to take forward. So much has happened over the last two years. The global pandemic and its chain of events has changed lives for many, not just as people but as consumers of content. And with Google’s third-party cookie phase out, us (m)adtech men and women are stepping into a whole new industry. And a better one, for that.

The simple truth

The simple truth is, things need to change. I’m not the only one who feels so strongly about how we can expand on CTR in the new normal. IAB UK’s National Anti-Click-Through Rate Day is aimed at bringing like-minded individuals together to discuss the brand new role of measurement and meaningful metrics in the new marketing era. 

In order to get ahead of the competition, it's time to reimagine metrics. Discover the metrics that matter to you, and understand the true ROI on your media investment. How? Well, it's time to open your eyes to a new world of performance and measurement.

Introducing attention & engagement metrics

Attention and engagement metrics have started to become a very hot topic, and for good reason. Attention-based measurement uses metrics around “viewability” or the “opportunity to see an ad” to identify how long eyeballs are actually on a particular brand message. It is a way to establish consensus around the true impact of an ad. The US is a little further ahead in terms of the adoption of attention metrics but there's been a lot of interest globally, as we look to redefine what metrics we really need. Engagement metrics demonstrate if and how the user engaged with the ad. Did the user pause and resume the video before or after the logo was shown? Did the user share the ad?

According to eMarketer, nearly 80% of marketers want deeper customer attention data to nurture meaningful performance metrics. Why? Well, attention creates a huge opportunity to truly make an impact on aspects such as addressable media, engagement, and viewability. However, in order to see it's true value, it needs to be combined with other innovations such as context, which is the most privacy-friendly technology that we have available. 

Context’s role in metrics that matter

Contextual 2.0 is here, and it is powerful. It’s privacy-safe, and when used effectively, can deliver placements into relevant content to enhance your brand message. A study by IAS revealed that 70% of consumers in the UK are more likely to recall an online ad when it runs alongside contextually relevant content. It makes sense, right? If you spot an ad placed within an environment you are already invested in, it's highly likely you will view that ad for longer, recall the message it is portraying, and therefore engage. It reveals so much more than a simple click.

The same goes for contextual video. When video ads are served contextually, advanced machine learning and AI help to match video content and the surrounding editorial content to ensure the ad is aligned with the content. The results reveal increased dwell time, and therefore the attention of audiences extends, and creates more impact. According to research by Video Intelligence, dwell time on sites increased by 33% when the test audience was served contextual video.

CTR, and some

It’s clear that there is a whole wide world beyond the humble CTR that we are yet to explore. With innovative technologies such as 4D are taking centre stage in this new, post-cookie era, advertisers and publishers alike can work together to build a brand new roster of metrics in conjunction with CTR that truly mean something. By understanding the creatives that work, in the environments that matter, is not only going to improve business outcomes, but will help you assess where to spend your marketing dollars.

I’m excited to see where the world of CTR + attention + engagement metrics takes us, and how contextual intelligence can help to serve advertisers today with metrics that truly matter. Want to find out more? Contact me at [email protected]

By Billy Port, VP of Revenue at 4D, a division of Silverbullet


Silverbullet Group is a data and digital transformation company that delivers future-proofed solutions for a privacy-first, post-cookie era. The group's combination of technology and expert professional services encompasses first-party data strategy and customer journey activation advisory, adtech and martech services, and a contextual intelligence engine that generates powerful business outcomes and customer-centric experiences.


Posted on: Friday 4 March 2022