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This Shouldn’t Be News: Engagement Matters

Time is precious. We’re overworked. Over-scheduled. Bombarded with notifications that demand our attention at that exact time — all the time.

So when we do spend time with something, or someone, it matters.

Seeing a great movie, hearing a song you want to sing along to or finding a website that catches (and holds!) your attention in a sea of endless options are, you’ve probably noticed, memorable events.

The same goes for ads — meaningful engagement is more important than ever in digital advertising, and while clicks and impressions aren’t going anywhere, it’s time to put more stock in what happens when people are actually paying attention.

In a world of infinite content – where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly – it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time. Ev Williams, Co-founder Twitter, Founder Medium


From “banner blindness” to the increasing use of ad-blockers, standard display units aren’t what they used to be. Don’t get me wrong — a campaign built around impressions can still deliver on certain KPIs, and smart programmatic strategies that target premium sites have proven successful. But for brands seeking a more meaningful connection and higher conversion, mindlessly serving impressions isn’t an ideal solution.

A ComScore display study showed a much higher correlation between time spent and conversion than viewable impressions, impressions and clicks (in fact, there was no observed correlation between display ad clicks and longer-term brand building metrics).

A Microsoft engagement study found that ads with a high initial engagement score are 3x more effective at generating brand searches and 70 percent more likely to attract visitors to a brand’s site. Those visitors were also more engaged when visiting.

We’ve seen the results ourselves: 70 percent of all Contobox engagements are 10 seconds or longer. That might seem quick, but it includes all units and features — not just ones where engagement is expected, like high-impact interactive video. We also regularly see 45 – 70 percent brand awareness lift in Nielsen studies, measuring 5x – 10x higher than standard display.

But that’s not even the most telling stat. The difference in conversion between engaged users and users that simply saw an impression range from 3x – 31x higher depending on the industry and the creative. You read that right: We’ve seen conversion in engaged users measure 31x higher



Marketers want people to see their ads, and they want people to be compelled to action by them, yet so many end up ignored in uninspired leaderboards and buried in right-rail obscurity. Simply following standard specs just isn’t enough to get you seen.

We don’t see static ads on TV because TV as a medium uses sight, sound and motion to deliver messages. Ads need to be endemic to the medium they are on. What makes digital special is the interactivity — so why are we still obsessed with linear static ads? Staking prime page real estate and providing interactivity is much more likely to deliver the brand awareness you’re looking for.

An Ipsos ASI study on the effectiveness of high-impact, interactive creative over standard display showed some staggering results. These units were 142 percent more effective at fostering brand recognition, 124 percent more effective at unaided brand recall, 78 percent more likely to make consumers want to learn more about a product or brand, and 72 percent more likely to make users want to tell friends and family about it.

Creative is about 70 – 80 percent of the effectiveness of advertising. Jon Gibs, VP Media Analytics, Nielsen

Rich media display, video, and native ads make for an unmistakable visual impact, and with unlimited and customizable content integration options, brands are better able to build relationships with users.

That’s why HTML5 and rich media are more important than ever — a crafty dev and creative team can leverage any idea imaginable across display, video or native to engage users and build stronger relationships between them and brands.


If you’re trying to drive engagement, you should buy engagement. Shifting to accountable models where media is planned and paid for on a cost-per-engagement is crucial. James Beser, Google Group Product Manager, Brand Display Advertising

What’s interesting about the power of time spent and engagement is that it creates an incredible way to allow people to be mindful of and actually consider your brand. By having the right strategy you’ll not only be able to convert people that engaged with your brand — but you might even get them to learn something about you, too. So the next time you plan a campaign think about engagement – create engagement, buy engagement and optimize for engagement.


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