Why CTR doesn’t tell the whole story

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Reporting, Banner - True Native, Education, main blog, Native advertising, Uncategorized

This week, industry body for digital advertising, The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched a provocative campaign with the strapline “Don’t be a #clickhead”.

This slightly cheeky pun provoked mixed reactions in our office (mostly dependent on your sense of humour!) but was designed to draw attention to a pretty serious campaign on the effective measurement of digital advertising.

So why take away the CTR?

The main villain in this tale? The click through rate (CTR)! The bullet proof metric we’ve all become beholden to, but one that doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

From our perspective, True Native (publisher hosted brand content) has the ability to be optimised towards additional or different KPIs dependent on the campaign’s goals. Whilst reach is always going to be important, and CTR isn’t going away any time soon, should we not be optimising towards time spent with content rather than the initial CTR?

For some of our campaigns this is a core metric – pure engagement with content. For others, it might be CTAs (calls to action on the brand site) from the article. If we agree what the goal of the campaign is in advance of creating content and flighting, we’re going to get better results as both content and tech work in tandem.

Measuring multi-channel effectiveness

We know that long form publisher hosted brand content leads to an 11pt lift in unaided awareness, 18pt lift in online ad recall and a 13pt lift in purchase intent* but how does this fit in with your wider campaign across different media channels? How do you prove the value of each media as a touchpoint? As part of the campaign, The IAB have produced a practical Toolkit covering four key tools that brands should consider using in their measurement approach:

  • Brand Studies
  • Econometrics /Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM)
  • Attribution
  • Controlled Experiments

The value of content

Measuring the success of long-form content beyond initial engagement can fit into any of the above, but it’s important to consider that where attribution is used, content tends to be top to middle funnel activity. We’ve seen some great results where multi-touch attribution (page 11 of the IAB Toolkit) is used and content can be seen as the starting point in the customer journey (discovery) despite the final ad event being another channel.

You can download the toolkit at www.iabuk.com/measurement

* comScore / Nativo study

engaging content student audience

Why engaging with students requires engaging content

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - Native Video, Banner - Reporting, Banner - True Native, Content, Content Marketing, Education, Native advertising

The shifting landscape

Declining application numbers have been a shock to the system across the higher education sector and have led to several major shifts. This year we witnessed a squeeze at the top, with the highest ranked 20 institutions competing for the brightest. Russell Group universities accepted ABB in the summer which had a knock-on effect right down the rankings and led universities to rethink their recruitment strategies.

Students are aware that it’s a buyer’s market, so are now shopping around, visiting multiple campuses to find the perfect university for them. Others are leaving it later to apply and some are waiting until August in the knowledge that even higher ranked institutions will offer places through clearing and confirmation.

Last year St George’s University became the first to offer medicine through clearing. This year, universities that used to mop up their last few places on results day, still had courses available days after to accommodate for late demand. Most institutions now offer a clearing open day to engage with students before they apply.

Making a first impression

The university is a unique institution, in that it’s marketing team must work to a particular cycle, communicating with a largely new audience each year. This presents a great opportunity to fine-tune your brand over time.

As a result, it’s crucial to make a high quality and lasting first impression with each student, each year. It makes such a difference if potential students understand who you are and what you’re all about before they are signposted towards course lists, prospectuses and open days.

student content

The power of your brand

With tightening budgets to work to, most unis are opting for high-intensity campaigns at key periods – January deadline, open days and clearing. This offers maximum impact and ensures that students are given every opportunity to register or apply. A downside of this strategy is that ads that feel transactional are less likely to influence students in making an important decision.

This problem is compounded by the intensity of competition for share of voice, making it hard to be heard above the crowd. Students are likely to see multiple university ads in a day, so how can any one ad stand out above the rest? Will students click on the first one they see? The most colourful? The most relevant? The most impressive stat?

Or will it be a brand that they have engaged with before and feel they recognise and want to explore further?

Education agency, SMRS, recently drew attention to the importance of brand in their HE marketing survey. 97% of respondents pointed to the increased importance of brand, above other recent impacts such as Brexit and the Teaching Excellence Framework.

student content

Being inspirational

When we talk about online brand engagement, we refer to the execution of meaningful, prolonged interactions with university content. Campaigns are often judged on the price of their clicks and the traffic they drive to a site, but this isn’t always the best way to build lasting and impactful brand awareness. Sometimes we should look beyond the click to really understand the results of a piece of activity.

We should consider the potential student’s experience and ask ourselves what students want from their interaction. If the aim is to win hearts and minds, we can’t be pushy, sending students to fill out a form without having something to offer. Universities are great at producing content but not so good at sharing it!

Departments, lecturers and student groups produce fascinating research every day and it’s exactly the kind of stuff that grabs attention and excites young people about getting stuck in and starting their student journey.

Be the one to spark that idea, that conversation, that inspiration, whilst quietly reinforcing your brand identity as an authority on the subject.

Engaging with a digital generation

The last few years have seen the rise of programmatic display ads which have led to campaigns that mine for direct response, opting for quantity over quality. At the same time, a digitally savvy generation has started holding advertisers to a higher standard. To have a chance of generating quality engagement with potential students, interactions have to become less transactional and more inspirational. To get engagement you must be engaging!

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