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3 Steps to Building an Advertising Engagement Strategy

November 1, 2020  •  By: Jeff Kupietzky

advertising engagement

Engagement is a hot commodity for brands and advertisers — perhaps even more than leads and conversions. Because before you can get to any of those meaty metrics, you need to grab your audience’s attention and hook them in.

That means you need to drum up engagement. 

As the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) stated, “there was advertising Engagement before there was Interactivity.”

Especially as organic engagement has taken a dive on social media platforms in the past couple of years, advertisers have been scrambling to make up for lost numbers on more direct and reliable channels.

So, it’s time to get serious about your ad engagement strategy and reaching customers in the right places with the right messaging.

Ready to get started?

Here’s what you need to know.

TL;DR – watch this short video:

What is advertising engagement?

According to IAB, advertising engagement is “a general term used to classify interaction a consumer has with brand content, whether it be in an ad, on a brand’s site, or via a brand’s social media profile page.”

Going further, IAB identifies three key forms of ad engagement as:

  • Cognitive engagement: how the user becomes aware of or interested in the ad
      • Example: stopping while scrolling to view or read an ad
  • Emotional engagement: how the user feels when engaging with the ad
      • Example: feeling inspired by an ad promoting a relevant sale
  • Behavioral engagement: how the user interacts with or responds to the ad
      • Example: making a video ad full screen to see it better

Evidently, engagement isn’t a one-size-fits-all metric. It can constantly evolve according to audience interests and behaviors — and, of course, the form and quality of your ad content. 

Most importantly, engagement is one of the first signals of interest and intent among users. So by gauging and measuring engagement with each campaign, advertisers can better understand how effective their ads will be at increasing intent and ultimately driving purchases.

How do you measure advertising engagement?

Advertisers commonly measure engagement with metrics such as likes, comments, and actions. Digging even deeper, however, IAB lists core ad engagement metrics across the three categories listed above, including:

Cognitive engagement metrics

  • Awareness: how much the user recognized the ad
  • Recall: how much the user remembered the ad
  • Intent: how much the ad influenced the user’s willingness to purchase
  • Consideration: how much the ad influenced the user’s selection of brands

Emotional engagement metrics

  • Brand perception: how much the ad influenced how the user feels about the brand
  • Brand favorability: how much the ad influenced whether the user likes the brand, and to what extent
  • Brand loyalty: how much the ad influenced the user’s loyalty to the brand
  • Physiological response: how much the ad influenced changes in respiration, circulation, or emotional response

Behavioral engagement metrics

  • Time spent: the amount of time spent viewing and interacting with an ad
  • Clicks: the number of clicks on the ad or link within the ad
  • Taps: the number of screen tap on a mobile ad
  • Swipes: the number of swipes on an ad to learn more
  • Video interactions: the number of starts, pauses, stops, or completes of a video
  • Shares: the number of shares with someone else

Ad engagement can sound like a vague term, but rest assured that there are concrete ways for you to measure it with the behavioral engagement metrics — and these metrics can have very real effects on your ad performance.

You can also measure ad engagement rates by taking any of these metrics and dividing them by your total number of impressions (or people who have seen your ad), like this:

Engagement rate = (Total engagements / Total impressions) x 100

So, if you launch an email newsletter ad that receives 10,000 impressions and 2,000 engagements (let’s say, clicks in this case), your engagement rate is 20%. Here’s how that looks with the formula we provided:

Engagement rate = (2,000 clicks / 10,000 impressions) x 100 = 20% 

3 steps to building your advertising engagement strategy

Now it’s time to put those metrics to work.

Start by using these actionable tips to optimize your advertising engagement strategy and make the most of your ad campaigns.

1. Use first-party data to personalize content

Customers are more likely to engage with personalized ads. According to a recent study from Innovid, nearly 30% of respondents said they’d be more likely to buy from a brand if their ad is personalized and 31% said they tend to be more loyal to brands that use personalized ads.

That means brands need to be sure they’re targeting people based on their category interests, online behaviors, and specific demographics. And they do that by partnering with publishers who generate first-party data from direct reader relationships. Especially now that third-party cookies are being phased out, having access to that data is more important than ever in driving engagement.

2. Reach audiences on their favorite channels

Audience attention shouldn’t be hard to grab. You just have to know where to find it. And you can start with where your audience is already active: on their favorite channels.

No, not on social media and search (where reach is declining and you’re at the mercy of tricky algorithms). We’re talking about truly engaging, 1:1 channels through which you can build direct relationships with customers.

Email, for example, is people’s most-preferred channel for communicating with brands. Just check out this video I did about why you should advertise in email:

Plus, push notifications are enabled by 72% of Internet users, and Apple News is consumed by over 125 million monthly active users.

If you’re struggling to generate engagement, move away from the walled gardens of Facebook and Google, and start exploring these channels — so you can have true control of your reach and data.

3. Work with trustworthy partners

You don’t have to manage your ad engagement strategies alone — and, really, you shouldn’t. With the right partners by your side, you can leverage the tools and insights you need to automate your ad campaigns, track engagement across channels, and optimize outreach in real time based on customer interests.

Working with trustworthy platforms can also help you build trust among your audience. Why? Because you’ll know your ads are being delivered by a proven, reputable source that vets its partners and values brand safety.

From ad engagement to ad marriage

First comes ad engagement, then comes ad marriage (meaning conversions and purchases… you get it). But the only way to reach that ultimate stage of the customer-brand relationship is to first grab your audience’s attention and motivate them to interact with your ad.

That’s why you need a solid advertising engagement strategy — one that uses first-party data to customize messaging and reach people where they’re already active.

Good news: PowerInbox can help. With our all-in-one advertising platform, you can reach millions of active users across the most engaging channels: email, web, push notifications, and news readers. We’ll even match your brand with premium publishers so you’ll know you’re targeting relevant consumers who want to interact with your brand. 

Sound like a plan? Contact PowerInbox now to learn more.

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