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Dwell Time As Ad Campaign KPI: Yes, But...

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According to a study by Microsoft, comScore, and Eyeblaster, dwell time, i.e. the time spent on a site or ad, is a key performance indicator for ad campaigns.
But not just any ad campaign, and that's the trick. Read on.

Rich Media
Dwell time does make sense in terms of rich media advertising campaigns. The study finds that consumers spend 71.5 seconds on video vs. 37.7 seconds with non-video in banner ads, almost doubling "sticking" time.
Also, messenger ads format perform best with an average of 83 seconds compared to rich media rectangles with 73.5 seconds, banners with 58.7 seconds and skyscrapers with an average of only 37.6 seconds.

Branding
The objective is important here to consider whether dwell time is a good indicator for conversion. One can assume that the longer a visitor's dwell time, the better impact it has on a brand. This, in turn, will be reflected by a spike in search volumes in ad search. So if the goal is to establish brand awareness, dwell time imposes itself as a major criteria to marketers for really heavily branded campaigns such as the one for the movie, "Avatar."

Avatar rich media ad content.JPG

In terms of absolute number of interactions and dwell time per interaction, such campaigns increase the daily search volumes on brand terms, the study finds.

Social Media Interests and Activities
Through social media like Twitter campaigns, there are correlative spikes in referenced tweets and increases in brand search after such campaigns.

Speaking at the Social Media World Forum in London in early March, Katie Howell, managing director of Immediate Future, had demonstrated (by showing a client graph with anonymized data) the close correlation between Twitter conversation spikes and search peaks.

Dwell and conversion rates.JPG

Timing
Useful information from the study is also the fact that dwell rate rises highest during the morning, 9 a.m. being the peak time. This is a precious indication for marketers to target their campaigns, meaning that time slot will be more profitable in terms of stickiness.

Facebook Attraction - Fatal Attraction ?
Combining the correlation of social media conversation peaks/search spikes and dwell rate timing with the linking capacities offered by Facebook's Open Graph API, one cannot but wonder whether dwell time is not about to become THE "über KPI" for campaigns through Zuckerberg's social site. Companies and brands will soon be running and paying for prime ad time, space, and back linking on Facebook.

Question: Is this why Association of Online Publishers reports that Microsoft is urging advertisers to adopt dwell as an ROI metric?

AOP quotes Laurent Delaporte, vice president EMEA, Microsoft Advertising as saying: "The success of an advert relies 75% on the creative, and 25% on its media scheduling. As tools and tactics to engage people online evolve, there is an increasing need for a measure that properly captures how an audience is responding to, and engaging with an ad in realtime."

Business Model
Finally, just a thought. Isn't it just a question of business model in the end?

If you think of it, the amount of time spent on a site is a not a particularly useful measure: what brands and marketers want is for the visitor to come onboard and take another action, such as sign up, chat, download, or ... buy. Linking brand to revenue is intangible.

The process is really long between dwell time and actual conversion, i.e. final sale. To get there, the prospect has to have a high dwell rate that shows increased engagement, to boost brand search and brand interest, before visiting brand sites, searching brand products, and finally buy.

So again, it depends on the goal as businesses and brands have different revenue models and dwell time may not always be the most tangible metric to focus on.


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