Study quantifies value of viewability and engagement

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A UK study has shown that advertisements that appear in quality online environments are 42 per cent more cost effective.

Research from a partnership by advertising agency GroupM UK, publishers group Newsworks and its national newspaper stakeholders shows that audience engagement and brand response are also positively impacted.

The cost-effectiveness measure is based on levels of engagement, viewability, above the fold placement and dwell time.

A premium exposure is 58 per cent more likely to be '100 per cent in view' - which is GroupM's global viewability standard - for at least five seconds. The online industry standard is 50 per cent in view for at least one second. Conversely, the study found that 48 per cent of measurable ads on the open exchange were never actually seen.

In contrast, ads in quality digital environments - defined as a website where consumers have a deeper relationship or affinity with the brand, for example newsbrand publishers or sports websites - are 98 per cent more likely to be placed fully above the fold, and 273 per cent more likely to prompt a hover from a user. Premium placements also produced stronger response rates across the board with average uplifts of +10.5 per cent for brand awareness, +19.2 per cent for ad recall, +9.7 per cent for brand perception and +10.3 per cent for recommendation intent.

The study covered 84 campaigns, over 398 million impressions and 28,549 filtered survey responses. This scale is on a par with industry surveys such as TGI. It ran between September 2017 and June 2018, with GroupM analysing the ad environments of live digital campaigns. The findings will now be used to build an industry-wide quality exposure factor for programmatic buying systems.

Results were being presented at Newsworks' 2018 Effectiveness Summit in London this morning, where speakers included British Gas' Patrick Smith, Unruly's Becky Waring and BBH's Richard Madden.

GroupM UK digital trading managing director Robin O'Neill says everyone "instinctively assumed" that context impacted how an ad was received. "But it's one thing to assume something and another to quantify the value of it. This study provides conclusive evidence that when it comes to ad environments, not all digital is equal and advertisers stand to benefit hugely from seeking quality online contexts."

Newsworks chief executive Vanessa Clifford says the study marks a huge step in its ongoing effectiveness programme. "Working with GroupM, our aim is to make this work an actionable part of the online buying process for advertisers.

"For years now, digital advertising has been used as a catch-all term in our industry, encompassing a myriad range of contexts. Now we have the insight to differentiate the value of a high-quality placements - such as on a newsbrand website - from general free browsing.

BBH strategy director Richard Madden said that from a creative agency's perspective, "this study is so exciting.

"The more we understand about the environments in which ads are appearing, the more we can adapt our work to capitalise on the opportunities available to us."

How it was done: GroupM worked with Meetrics to capture viewability and user engagement data for every impression across 84 campaigns, and with Cint to distribute brand tracking surveys to all of their panellists who were exposed to the campaigns. These two datasets were joined at the impression level to enable the linking of distinct brand tracking responses with the types of exposures the individual respondents received. Results were then compared for the quality environment versus the run of the internet/open exchange.

Newsworks' stakeholders are DMG Media, ESI Media, Guardian News & Media, Johnston Press, News UK, Telegraph Media Group and Reach.

Pictured: Vanessa Clifford and Robin O'Neill announcing the project at last year's event

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