In the world of digital marketing, the long-standing staples of measuring the success of an online ad has been to monitor the Click Through Rate (CTR) and impressions. Now, an increasing number of dissenting voices have called attention to the need for higher quality performance analytics to measure digital campaigns.

Advertisers are seeking actual proof that the customer saw and interacted with the ad and are no longer satisfied by relying on faith. They want a higher standard of metrics that instils confidence in return on ad spend.

The momentum around this demand for new measurements is infusing the industry, and there is a consensus that clicks and impressions give limited insight into campaign performance. Even Nielsen argues that not all buyers are clickers and not all clickers are buyers. That means that a campaign designed to maximise clicks will only reach the limited audience of consumers who click, even the ones who aren’t buyers. Even worse, it will neglect the audience of buyers who don’t click.

Conversions are, of course, the end goal for very advertiser, but without a preceding click, they are completely worthless to a campaign that is only accountable for CTR. An increased click through rate can therefore be a deceptively impressive result and not the ultimate indicator of campaign performance. It also discounts those who have been influenced by an ad but gone on to make a purchase through other channels, such as a search engine.

Impressions are a challenge because there is no accountability tied to performance. A campaign manager could serve an ad even though there’s no guarantee it was seen. Even post-impression conversions or view-through conversions leave a lot of questions as to whether claimed conversions are tied to ads that were actually seen.

It’s not hard to convince an advertiser of these challenges with clicks and impressions, but many of them are still running click- and impression-based campaigns. The reason is, there hasn’t been a new option since clicks came into practice in 1999.

Display has become much more sophisticated in the last 14 years, and it’s amazing that measurements haven’t evolved with the content and targeting innovations. Especially given the tools in place to measure how consumers engage with online advertising – the core of what is leading the display measurement revolution.

Engagement is the metric which most successfully ensures that ads meaningfully influence user behaviour. Surprisingly, it has been overlooked to date, as the majority of advertisers are still settling for impression- and click-based campaigns. With today’s advanced technology, the best online ads are rich with website-like capabilities, and can be personalised, allowing customers to have an interactive experience without ever having to leave the page they are browsing.

A recent Adobe study revealed that consumers who were exposed to interactive ads had stronger engagement, message involvement and purchase intent than those who saw static ads. Our own research in this area is also persuasive, showing that those who engage with dynamic display ads return to a site and convert to a sale 44 per cent faster than those who click through. Engagement with an online ad can range from scrolling through featured products to watching a video. It is a mistake not to leverage this valuable technology to create metrics that bring more clarity to the influence of display.

There is no doubt that engagement is the best metric for measuring the influence of an online campaign. Engagement solves the problems presented by clicks and views by reaching a wider purchasing audience, and by proving ad influence on conversions. As advertisers consider new ways to understand display ad influence, it’s important that they recognise the importance of influencing consumer browsing behaviour and use interactive features to catch consumers’ eyes.

Engagement is forging a new era of performance metrics that better utilise today’s intelligent technology and better engage a generation of increasingly savvy consumers. It is therefore time for us to revolutionise our approach to measurement if we are to empower advertisers to make the right decisions when exploring campaign metrics.