An Argument for Rich Media Metrics

“Any measurement must take into account the position of the observer. There is no such thing as measurement absolute, there is only measurement relative.” –Jeanette Winterson

Rich media is moving pretty fast. Yet some areas haven’t been resolved, one being measurement. We seemed to have skipped over the direct response model and gone straight for the plum showy work. For some, that’s a good thing. Others need to get real about rich media measurement.

We’re on a “portfolio work” bender with rich media. The big spenders were invited to the party, and there’s some real money to be spent. Aside from a Haliburton contract, it’s likely the party will end if we don’t get sensible about measuring rich media advertising. Measurement must stay important to our understanding of user interaction in the long run.

Let’s look at what we’re dealing with. And, please be kind. I’m a creative; as a rule, I dislike numbers and math.

Clicks, click-throughs, conversions, extended conversions, and other direct marketing measures are often used to measure standard banner ads and search engine click-throughs. I’ve lived these measurements. They’re vital to providing dollar value for a client’s money. But when a brand advertiser comes up against these criteria, things get a little cloudy.

Awareness, aided recall, unaided recall, and other brand measurements are the primary marks set for a brand advertiser. They’re the tried-and-true areas that give us the advertising world we live in today (for better or for worse). But if you do any kind of campaign measurement, you must ask yourself: How do I measure this cool rich media ad my agency just built?

We need a new level of measurement for rich ads that has more to do with interactivity than what we’re blindly adopting. Below, several concepts for measurement:

  • Effect: Overall user recall of interruption; can apply to audible as well as visual attributes

  • Interactions: Beyond primary navigation in an experience; includes repeat use, search, and exploring
  • Multiuse: Participation in multiple unit areas, covering depth of experience relative to user immersion
  • Video duration/extended play: Relative to content length and drop-off amount or, conversely, repeat play relative to content length
  • Rollovers: Relative to users’ browsing interest in an experience
  • Volume adjustments: Increase and decrease of volume relative to user response and content duration

Some of these metrics already exist and have been used for years. But no standardized benchmarks or formalized acknowledgments of their intrinsic value exist. These (albeit preliminary) metrics can give us insights into how a rich user experience could be improved.

Video games can help teach us what makes people come back. A good game starts with a quality experience. There’s the challenge of the game, and maybe the simulation is so good you feel like you’re there (though not every game is based on reality). There’s more to it than that.

There’s something magnetic about these games; they make you want more. Why can’t that apply to ads? Some ads do a decent job of getting people in on the fun without being overbearing or complicated. The Orbitz games are hugely successful because of the cheap fun and low learning curve. Heck, because their pop-unders were so successful, they even created a site where you can play all the games.

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to believe Orbitz measures how many times you play the games.

What to measure isn’t universal. What works for one marketer won’t work for another. But if we look at a broader measurement form for rich advertising, we could make better decisions that help us build better ads tomorrow and far into the future.

What do you think? E-mail me or join the discussion on my rich media blog. Help build a manifesto of rich media measurement.

Related reading