Surina Sayal

Rich Media Rocks 2010: "Digital can bring ideas to life," says Creative Sherpa's Linda Kovarik

Dwell time on online ads and using online effectively to create solutions for business problems were the focus of discussion during the second half of the day

In the second half of the day at the Microsoft Advertising Rich Media Rocks 2010 seminar, Anant Joshi, director, partnerships and sales engineering, MediaMind discussed the importance of "dwell rate" in online advertising; while Linda Kovarik, founder and head of strategy, Creative Sherpa spoke about the universe of creative possibilities in digital advertising.

Joshi discussed how a brand could use "dwell" to measure advertising effectiveness. Explaining the term, he said that dwell rate means the proportion of impressions that were intentionally engaged with by touch, interaction or click.

Rich Media Rocks 2010: "Digital can bring ideas to life," says Creative Sherpa's Linda Kovarik
Rich Media Rocks 2010: "Digital can bring ideas to life," says Creative Sherpa's Linda Kovarik
"In the second half of 2008, Eyeblaster (MediaMind) released Dwell metrics. The aim was to define a ubiquitous online metric to help advertisers quickly gauge the effectiveness of online rich media campaigns. Dwell was developed to capture rich media's essence --interactivity and touch," shared Joshi.

Dwell is measured through two metrics: Dwell Rate and Average Dwell Time. Dwell Rate measures the proportion of impressions that were intentionally engaged with by touch, interaction or click; while Average Dwell Time measures the duration of a Dwell in seconds for users who were engaged; or the duration of time for which the cursor was on the ad, the panel was expanded, the video played or any other action that took place on the ad after the user was engaged.

"Dwell is superior to older metrics such as Click Through Rate (CTR) and Interaction Rate. CTR measures the share of impressions that were clicked on. However, in many cases, users can retain the message from the ad itself and do not have any reason to browse to the advertiser's website by clicking on the ad," said Joshi. But if a click was not recorded, the ad was deemed completely ineffective, thereby penalizing a well-performing creative by using an inapplicable metric.

How then can you create ads with higher Dwell? "Rule one," said Joshi, was to "place ads in environments where users spend ample time." Second, "Use video". One of the advantages of video banners is that the publisher's content is typically static. Therefore, moving pictures tend to draw attention from the content to the ad. The third rule is "Be assertive". Good display ads are like good salesmen -- they need the right amount of chutzpah to get the job done, said Joshi.

Latin America, South Asia and Europe tend to have the highest Dwell Rate; while Latin America also has the highest Average Dwell Time.

The next speaker, Creative Sherpa's Kovarik started off her presentation by saying that digital can bring ideas to life, and therefore, should not only be used as a channel.

"What is the future of advertising and digital advertising?" she posed, going on to share some path-breaking digital campaigns, including the Axe Wake Up Service campaign in Japan.

Rich Media Rocks 2010: "Digital can bring ideas to life," says Creative Sherpa's Linda Kovarik
This campaign's goal was to drive daily usage of Axe amongst men. It was learnt that 80 per cent people in Japan wake up to their phone or 'keitai' alarm. Thus, what ensued was a well-thought out and planned digital campaign that got men to sign up for the wake-up service and be awakened each morning by the Axe Angels. They could also check the Angels' profiles on the website and choose who should wake them up.

Kovarik also cited the Gatorade Replay campaign, which took the long form film route, and won the bronze Cyber Lion.

Another great example of a digital campaign was Best Buy's Twelpforce. At Best Buy, the consumer electronics retailer, the usually unknown 'Geek Squad' and 'Blue Shirts' employees have in-depth information about various electronics.

The retailer encouraged their employees to handle online customer service and company promotions via the 'Twelpforce', that is, Twitter help channel, with associated work on Facebook and YouTube. 'Tweet the Twelpforce, they're here to twelp', was the idea.

Rich Media Rocks 2010: "Digital can bring ideas to life," says Creative Sherpa's Linda Kovarik
Thus, over 2,000 employees would race to answer questions posed by the public. Best Buy's Twelpforce campaign has been awarded an Interactive Gold for Innovative Use of Technology at the 2010 Clio Awards.

Kovarik also shared the example of GMP Singapore, a recruitment and HR firm. The company's 'Ghost' campaign featured an old lady, emerging from behind two men in a lift. The viral video circulated rapidly around the world. After creating much hype and getting multimedia coverage, it was revealed that the ghost video was created by GMP to highlight the dangers of working late.

Another example she cited was of an interactive marketing campaign for Yellow Pages in New Zealand, for which the company had enlisted 28-year-old surfer and aspiring actor, Josh Winger, to create and market a chocolate bar that tastes like the colour 'yellow'.

To execute his task, Winger could only use the companies listed in the New Zealand Yellow Pages. After crowd sourcing flavour suggestions, he came up with a Yellow chocolate bar that hit supermarkets and was sold out within the first day. People even traded the bar online for up to $320. The campaign was recognised with a Gold Titanium/Integrated award, a Gold Media Lion, and a Bronze Cyber Lion at Cannes 2010.

"Therefore, look at not creating a campaign, but solving a business problem with a great -- not good, but great -- solution," emphasised Kovarik.

But what's getting in the way of great solutions? One obstacle is habit. "Do what you've always done and get what you've always got," said Kovarik, adding that fear is another cause. "We need the mavericks to come back; we need leadership."

For agencies, she advised, "Lead, don't be led; have passion for what you are presenting."

"Offer creative options to the idea, with first, the solution; second, the solution with a bit of risk; and third, the solution on steroids," she encouraged. Also, "Sell the idea to me; don't just present it."

To clients, she suggested, "Have a sense of how you can shape the digital future of your brand and incentivize the agency accordingly. At the same time, do not to be enamored with channels, but with solutions."

"Rich Media Rocks, but only when there are people who rock it," she concluded.