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Most brand advertisers accept that the click-through rate is far from the perfect metric. But it's easy to understand and easy to measure, which offers some comfort. And that means that the low click-through rates (CTRs) associated with display ads aren't always so comforting.

Even though it's logical that there's more to display advertising efficacy than CTRs, the absence of widely-accepted alternative metrics is a problem.

This weekend, eMarketer reported on research released by ad solutions provider Eyeblaster last month which detailed a study that looked at how long users "dwell" with certain kinds of ads. To that end, Eyeblaster came up with a new metric, the "dwell rate", which is calculated by counting the times a user interacts with an ad and dividing it by the number of impressions served for that ad.

The findings: despite low CTRs, users interact quite heavily with various kinds of display advertising. Example: while the average global CTR seen for rich media display ads in the study was .35%, the average "dwell rate" was 8.71%. For brand marketers, such data could be valuable (and somewhat relieving).

Not surprisingly, dwell rates varied quite substantially with different ad formats. Floating ads, for instance, achieved an average dwell rate of 30.6% while "polite banners" only achieved an average dwell rate of 4.7%.


Since the dwell rate isn't all there is to it, Eyeblaster also looked at dwell times. While the average floating ad's dwell rate was impressive, the average dwell time was only 4.7 seconds. Compare that to expandable banners, on the other hand, which delivered an average dwell time of 45.5 seconds. Not surprisingly, Eyeblaster found that dwell times were heavily influenced by the category of property ads are displayed in. Email, for instance, saw an average dwell time of 84.24 seconds while social networks only delivered 26.27 seconds of dwell time.


Eyeblaster's research provides some food for thought for brand advertisers. While dwell rate and dwell time metrics aren't immediately going to replace the CTR, they do provide a potentially useful perspective. For advertisers looking to get the most bang for the buck, it will be increasingly important to consider a variety of metrics in an effort to obtain the broadest and most comprehensive view of how their ads are reaching consumers.

Patricio Robles

Published 24 August, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Riaz Kanani

Sounds like they are counting people clicking the close or stop button. I'd count that as a negative dwell rate rather than a positive. 

almost 7 years ago

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Alec Cochrane

Although it is admirable that eyeblaster (a company that helps provide display advertising) are producing research showing you that display advertising does work, there is probably one important thing to take from this.  It's not that: 

“Recent research shows that the lack of suitable metrics as a top frustration for marketers,”

As iterated by the press release by eyeblaster.  It is more the case that:

it will be increasingly important to consider a variety of metrics in an effort to obtain the broadest and most comprehensive view of how their ads are reaching consumers.

As iterated by you in the last paragraph.  Really many people are lazy and want one metric to prove that their advertising is working, not metrics.  Our job is to to persuade them that they need to look at a number of different things and weigh up the potential of each of them.

almost 7 years ago

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Vickie Smith-Siculiano, PMP

It's interesting to see the evolving metrics for how people are using online advertising and marketing communications - Thanks for breaking down the emarketer stats - well done!

almost 7 years ago

Mihkel Jäätma

Mihkel Jäätma, Founding Partner at Realeyes

There are also service solutions for measuring actual visual attention based on infra-red light reflections from people's eyes. Speed of gathering such information and cost efficency to get it all done has just very recently improved by almost orders of magnitude.

almost 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Riaz,

I think that's probably the case with the floating ads and the dwell time of 4.7 seconds reflects that. I think both metrics have to be used.

almost 7 years ago

Riaz Kanani

Riaz Kanani, CEO at Profusion

Patricio:

Yes that makes sense - it possibly highlights the irritation by consumers with  overlays.

almost 7 years ago

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Dean Donaldson

Oh you of little faith! :-)

As the main mover behind Dwell, let me help clarify for you. 

Dwell removes 'accidental' interactivity - designed to measure true consumer behavior in a way current interaction rate does not, i.e. removes the kind of behaviour Riaz alludes to.

Rate is purely the number of times an ad was touched. Time is cumulation of all activity per ad view.

The data actually shows the positive correlation of consumer behaviour - such as that seen by Floating Ads. Combined with other metrics (such as CTR) helps shows confidence in formats, e.g  if all rollovers / CTR in floating ads were accidental - the Dwell Time would be zero! If anything, this new dat point is showing the opposite to irritation - as incredible as that sounds...

Alec - I totally agree with you. Dwell only helps answer does someone 'see' an ad - as for resulting behavior, this could drive clicks (hence the research with 'combined' metrics) or could drive search - or offline sales, or whatever. Expect further research into this.

It is the first time we have a single 'positive' metric that is scalable across all formats, and potentially media channels - we can not rely on eye-tracking or panel data as scalable solutions per campaign realistically. 

If you want to understand the full scope of the development, please visit my blog and find a comprehensive argument - http://bit.ly/Qg3g - or download the published research - http://bit.ly/cVGwN.

Always happy to debate in the interests of driving the industry forward together.

Best

Dean Donaldson | Director of Digital Experience | Eyeblaster

almost 7 years ago

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Dana Todd

@Dean - how would Dwell be enacted for a text-based advertorial unit such as Newsforce? In our eye tracking studies, we show a 60% interaction rate with our unit in terms of gaze/attention (far surpassing all other ads on the page), but as you said that's not easily scaled and perhaps not empirical to 100% of campaigns.

I think Dwell is a great start but you're still leaving some unmeasured attention on the table...there's still a lot of reading going on, and not always touching/engaging with a unit. I'm still waiting for online media impact models that include some extrapolation, similar to how GRPs work. I'm not saying GRP is perfect, by any stretch, but the underlying work that the media industry did to build the impact models has not been replicated in interactive.

Glad to see this discussion, though, and a continued push for better understanding of how we're doing in online advertising alongside other methods.

almost 7 years ago

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