The Factor of Interactivity

Measuring rich media and video content has been challenging. Is there a better way? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Online ads, Web sites, mobile apps, and the like have an inherent value that’s been conveniently overlooked: interactivity.

It may seem a bit simplistic, but really it’s not. It’s probably one of the most complex issues we deal with in online marketing. And that complexity has a lot to do with applying a quantitative and qualitative degree to the wide form of interactive actions.

As I laid out in a previous column, many actions might be considered in the interactive model. Not all of them are obvious, and many new ones are being invented through new design techniques every day.

Before we go any further, let’s look at why we should value online interactivity.

As a species, we’ve depended greatly on many forms of communication to grow, refine, and ultimately progress into the form we are today. These forms are commonly broken down into the verbal, tactile, and gesture. Visit a country where you don’t know the language. You quickly realize the power of speaking in gestures, especially if you’re good at it. When you see two people trying to communicate non-verbally, it almost looks like a dance.

We’ve retained much of that talent in contemporary society. In fact, there are more forms of dance and cultural gesturing every day that depict a certain attitude or background. Unsurprisingly, music is often the cauldron in which many of these forms of non-verbal communications brew.

For the past decade, most of the way we communicate online is verbally and visually meaningful via text and images. Add a small amount of animation, and you’ve got an online ad.

Today, ads are becoming a lot more gesture-based, thanks to our old friend, video. It gives advertisers a way to integrate the human element into advertising and make it part of the experience beyond a talking head.

Interactivity is a form of expression based on the principle of an object (animated human being) is some form of gesture-based communication with engagement intentions. Before this gets any geekier, let’s just assume non-verbal communication is a vital, underused factor in online video. And that use of said video/rich media elevates the engagement factor in almost all material that’s used in marketing.

Does this mean we need another measurement model?

If so, why aren’t we embracing the idea of interactivity as a factor in anything that’s developed these days? We can track interactivity, but we don’t know what to infer from the data. We need a better way to measure. But a new set of metrics may just be too radical for our delicate industry to take, at least for the next year or so.

Rather than adding a whole bunch of metrics to the pot, what if we just looked at interactivity as a factor in a brand or direct response context?

Look at it this way:

Time spent + interactions + device play = factor X (could be set as 1-5)

Factor X would be a adjustment basis for any of the five basic brand metrics and four direct metrics we all commonly know and use. In a brand scenario, for example, a factor of two would mean all current brand metrics could be elevated by 20 percent for the online audience program result. A direct model would be somewhat the same, but we’d need to tie a transaction of some sort to the final result.

I’m no data scientist, but this approach or some variant of it could make a whole lot of headaches disappear in the deeply ingrained measurement world of brand and direct.

All this points to the fact that we must take a creative approach to a very complex factor in online advertising’s affectivity. Maybe we can throw out the online pan-measurement metrics can of worms and get on with pushing the envelope.

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