People hate seeing ads

It seems like a little thing to ask. To have free television, we have to have commercial breaks. Otherwise we have to pay for Netflix or sit through public broadcasting. Pledge week sucks.

Most people compromise and go to the bathroom during commercial breaks. Maybe you get up and go open the fridge. If you’re lazy, maybe you check your email on your phone or channel surf for a few minutes.

It’s easy to develop habits to avoid predictable advertising. Online advertising was supposed to revolutionize the ad ecosystem, with new online channels to serve ads. Yet instead, we’ve developed new habits to dodge ads.

Banner blindness is one glaring example. Eye-tracking software shows that we look everywhere except the ads on free content websites. It’s impressive how we know exactly where the ads are even on a site we’ve never surfed. Could you predict, for instance, exactly where commercials start and end on every network channel for every TV show?

When we’re forced to watch advertising, we develop routines that help us avoid seeing those ads. Whether it’s going to the bathroom or clicking the skip button, there’s no denying that we hate sitting through the ads that make our beloved free content possible.

Any long-term effective advertising channel shouldn’t be innately predictable by its target audience. If it’s easy to figure out where the ads are, viewers will find easy ways around them. A successful ad channel prevents us from forming ad-avoidance habits.

What’s truly surprising is how often online ad formats provide an option that encourages viewer attrition. Publishers like YouTube include a “Skip ad” button for viewers, which gets clicked on 70% of pre-roll ads. YouTube executives have described this as a method for discovering which ads work to engage viewers and which don’t.

The problem is how predictable these ad formats are. There’s always a way to create a habit that prevents the ad from reaching the customer. At its best, advertising is a way to show customers to products that they’re interested in. Right now we avoid every ad at the cost of missing ads for interesting products.

You could design an ad with unpredictable skipping options, which change from impression to impression. Alternatively, you could design a route for skipping the ad that leaves customers with the impression from the skip, not the main ad itself.

How We Think Different

Today the trend in digital advertising is heavily biased towards two things: taking advantage of the mobile platform and figuring out programmatic buying. Fundamentally, this is about using repetition as a tool to advance brand recognition and drive conversions/sales. About using an onslaught of ads, targeted and retargeted across multiple platforms.

Because the individual impact of display ads is so small, it takes this kind of aggregated push across many publishing sites to change a customer’s preferences and/or behavior. Both programmatic and platform integration are forces pushing the industry towards a “rain of ads” strategy, albeit one that has direct benefits for users. Counter-intuitively, targeted ads are less invasive and create a smoother online experience

We’re all for retargeting, because the technology and the data are here for us to use. Barraging users across platforms with repetitive ad spots, however, isn’t something we’re interested in. Other companies already have the personnel and the technology to innovate in that field. We at EngageClick, in the immortal words of Steve Jobs, want to think different.

By taking a closer look at what different factors control human learning, we’ve taken a different attitude towards brand lift from the majority of the industry.

We don’t think of engagement as some mystical art. Instead, we’ve taken a scientific approach to learning about human-advertising interactions. Our technology is designed around neuroscientific and psychological research on human learning and memory processing. Using some basic principles about effective learning strategies, we can speed up learning processes and increase memory formation around simple images and text.

Increasing engagement with individual ads is our primary goal. We find ways that engage consumers with advertising that adds value to their online experience. Our Human Engagement Platform® showcases the best methods we’ve developed (so far) to supercharge user engagement with individual ads.

For more information on how the HEP drives brand recognition, contact .

What’s lacking in Mobile Ads

Tiny ads.

Fat-finger conversions.

Annoying interruptions.

These are the three biggest problems with publishing advertising on a mobile platform. Old display formats just don’t scale across platforms.

Display advertising isn’t designed for iPhone or Android devices, and it shows. Advertisers that have transferred their existing campaigns to capitalize on mobile aren’t reaping the benefits they hoped for. Search advertising is running into the same problem. Together, those two categories comprise 65% of all digital ad spending, and they just aren’t going to scale well into mobile formats.

Creatives and advertisers will have to develop mobile-specific ad formats, instead of trying to squeeze existing formats onto a tiny display. Remember how we took billboards and made them into banner ads? That’s not working out so well these days. It’s going to take platform-specific innovation that takes advantage of the innate capabilities of the device.

At EngageClick, we’re looking into how we can use the unique features of mobile devices to drive new advertising formats. To learn more about our mobile-specific solutions, contact

Advertising, Ecology, and Evolution

The advertising ecosystem is evolving faster than it ever has, and it’s getting harder and harder to keep up. The latest trend is native advertising—placing a brand’s message in the flow of web browsing behavior or content consumption, rather than competing with content by using peripheral advertising or interruptive pre-roll video ads.

Keeping in mind how the evolution of an ecosystem works can allow you to take advantage of the native advertising trend as it unfolds. A few key concepts from Evolution and Ecology 101:

Advertising, like nature, is constantly adapting. The Red Queen phenomenon—running as fast as you can just to stay where you are—is a staple of evolutionary biology, and it’s played out in spades on the internet, where competition is fierce. The first banner ad had a CTR of 78%, and viewers quickly developed banner blindness. Early adopters and fast-followers gain ground over publishers and agencies who are later to the party.

Red Queen

Photo credit:

New adaptations gain short-term advantages over old ones, regardless of their long-term benefits. The early adopters of native advertising are going to see more benefits early on, and opportunities to use the “novel” factor will disappear. As more publishers and agencies adapt to native advertising, the long-term benefits of catching consumers mid-stream will become more prevalent.

EngageClick’s platform includes native advertising solutions that can be quickly and easily implemented. Leverage our technology to become an early adopter of this trend. Take a lesson from the Red Queen phenomenon – adopt native advertising as part of your strategy and you won’t get left behind!

How do we measure the success of digital advertising campaigns?

Measuring the success of digital advertising campaigns is very limited. Currently, there are just two main metrics:


1. Number of Impressions – How many times the brand creative is served online? Yet, this doesn’t prove the creative was actually seen!
2. Click-through Rate (CTR) – How many times someone clicked on the brand creative? Yet, this doesn’t prove the click wasn’t accidental! 

At EngageClick, we want the industry to evolve beyond just two main metrics. We can help you also measure brand engagements, behavioral patterns, and reach.

Our mission is to have visitors ENGAGE more with brands and their messaging. To accomplish this, we’ve developed a technology that inherently delivers rich interaction analytics from active user engagements. Our solutions are effective, computationally-efficient, systematically-intelligent and easy-to-use. To learn more and schedule a demo of our products, contact us at