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A Better Signal: Active Engagement

In a previous blog post, we discussed the need to take viewability measurement to the next level with user-level analysis, to get to true frequency management. (In a nutshell, only viewable impressions should count to a user’s frequency cap.)

Now, viewability is important, but it’s ultimately just a delivery metric. Was my ad able to be seen? If so, the delivery was successful.

But viewability still can’t tell you if this was the right ad for the right person in the right place at the right time. It’s not a metric for efficacy.

For that, we need something more meaningful: engagement. And more specifically, active engagement.

Defining engagement

There are plenty of definitions for “engagement” out there, but ultimately what we’re looking to do as advertisers is to win hearts and minds, to persuade people of the value of our products or services.

Our goal is to get an actively positive response to our message, and not just the passive tolerance of our ad, or worse.

We’re trying to engage consumers, in other words.

Capturing engagement

Obviously, engagement is not easy to measure directly. No one can read minds, for starters.

You could show ads to a panel and then survey them, but this is hardly an option for every marketer.

So, historically, the industry has used proxy metrics that are easier to capture at scale. These include:

These are all useful, but they all have their limitations – clicks especially, given how many clicks come from “fat finger syndrome” or from fraudulent bots gaming a CPC.

Dwell time and completed views are good to know, but don’t necessarily tell the whole story, given how users have developed “banner blindness”, and/or may shift their attention away from an unskippable pre-roll. Besides which, these are passive engagements at best. Was the user so spellbound by your ad that they watched it to the end? Or did it keep playing while they walked away from the screen?

Likes, shares, and comments are a stronger signal, given that users have to opt into them. But how many people actually “like” or share an ad? These interactions don’t exist outside social, either.

Advertisers need a signal of active engagement that’s relevant across platforms.

Microgestures: a new way to measure active engagement

At Yieldmo, we’ve discovered a new kind of engagement signal that has heretofore been overlooked by the industry. Best of all, this signal applies to both social and the open web, and to both browsers and apps.

We call these signals microgestures.

Microgestures are things users do with their mobile devices when interacting with ads. These are all voluntary, opt-in actions – and they’re all active signals of a user’s attention and intent.

Examples include:

Driving outcomes with active engagements

Engagement data can be used to drive real outcomes. At Yieldmo we’ve found:

The potential for active engagement data is boundless, and we’ve already begun to apply it to more verticals and KPIs.

Posted by: Brad Timmers, VP, Data and Platform Products