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.