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Mobile Engagement: Measuring Metrics Before the Click

Brand Marketers should optimize for mobile engagement over clicks (and by doing so they’ll actually get both)

As brand marketers continue to shift budgets from desktop to mobile, many of them are also porting over the exact same measurement mentality around “the click.” While clicks (or should we say “taps”) in many cases still indicate interest and intent, relying on this metric alone fails to appreciate the uniqueness of the mobile device. On desktop, a click of the mouse is intentional and thus an appropriate measure of advertising success, whereas on mobile, taps are more likely to be accidental — a recent report from Retale suggests that 60% of clicks on mobile banners are accidental. Additionally, the advent of the touchscreen on mobile devices unlocked user behaviors and gestures — like swipes, tilts, and pinch-to-zoom — that weren’t ever possible on desktop. As the Yieldmo mobile ad format portfolio proves, mobile advertising can take advantage of these gestures to encourage engagement — it is these engagements that occur before the click (if a tap does in fact ever occur) that introduce an entirely new set of metrics to measure ad effectiveness against.  


“Engagement” is defined using metrics that reveal how a user interacted with an advertisement and whether that interaction signaled user interest in the brand or product, regardless of whether they actually clicked on the ad or not. For example, scrolling up and down while keeping the advertisement in the viewable window increases the time spent with the ad and implies that the user is paying attention and absorbing its message. The Financial Times has proven that when an ad is viewed for five or more seconds it yields a 71% increase in brand awareness and 58% higher brand consideration than the same ad viewed for less than 5 seconds. Clearly, brand marketers, publishers, and vendors alike should look to these engagement metrics as a form of success.


Knowing that engagement with mobile ads can indicate interest and intent just as much as clicks, the Yieldmo Testing and Insights team set out to investigate whether there was a relationship between these two sets of metrics at all. To begin, we analyzed the performance metrics across 943 scrollable format creatives (such as WindowPull, and Hyperscroller) over the past 2 months, totaling ~285 million viewed ad impressions (note: a scroll is defined as when a user changes the direction up or down on the viewport). What we found were some very clear-cut results linking mobile engagement and click-through rate (CTR).


Time spent increases as users engage more

Obviously, this correlation makes sense. But what makes it more compelling is that it means that marketers can get a truer sense of how much attention their creative is receiving, instead of using a binary click metric. By creating an interactive ad, you can get a much better sense of what drives a user to click.


The more users engage with the ad, the more likely they are to click on the ad

If brand marketers can take advantage of scrolling functionality through formats that promote that behavior, they can get the user to pay attention to the message, allowing users the opportunity to intentionally click through to the marketer’s site. In a mobile environment where accidental clicks are problematic, scrolling engagement can help understand how qualified the clicks actually are. Again, since the scroll rates also correlate positively to time spent, marketers can be confident that scrolling engagements reflect attention on the actual message.


Key Takeaways




Posted by: Jane Kim, Head of A/B Testing & Optimization