Helsingin Sanomat revolutionalises tablet advertising

By Santtu Kottila

The problem of the digital era in media business has been the inability to measure ad campaigns properly. We’ve only been able to report the ad impressions and click-through rates (CTRs), which are poor statistics about ad effectiveness.

This has been going on for too long now! That’s why we at Helsingin Sanomat wanted to re-invent digital advertising and measuring when we created Helsingin Sanomat for the tablet environment.

Helsingin Sanomat is Finland’s and Scandinavia’s largest daily newspaper, reaching 1.9 million readers per week in a nation of five million inhabitants. The tablet edition of Helsingin Sanomat has more than 100,000 weekly readers who all pay for the subscription.

We decided we should implement ads for the tablet with these priorities in mind:

  1. Ads that wouldn’t harass the editorial content itself.

  2. Ads that would get 100% visibility rates.

  3. Advertisers would be able to use potential of the device (touching, tilting the device etc.).

  4. Advertisers would see over-the-top results.

We were able to reach these goals with two simple choices:

  • Swipeable UX, which means that each article has its own page, and the reader moves on by swiping from right to left. This made it possible for us to put a full-screen ad between articles. At the moment, our readers see an ad between every fourth article.

    We quickly saw that this didn’t irritate readers, mainly because banners usually are on top of the article or somewhere else near the content, which puts the content aside. Readers also commented that the ads give them the needed time to take a breath because, as we all know, news is mainly about negative stuff at the moment.

  • Background loading of the ads, which enables advertisers to really put effort in making the ads entertaining and useful. A normal Web banner can weigh about 40KB, so full-screen ads can be more than 100 times the size, making it possible to create really adventurous stuff and therefore get better results.

So, how were we able to measure the ad effectiveness differently?

First, we ditched the term CTR in our reporting. Instead we started to use “engagement-%,” which tells a better story about how interesting the ad was. It sums up all the different click spots, tilts, swipes, and so on of the ad.

Secondly, we introduced a totally new measure: time spent with the ad. These two things together tell more about how the ad performed and gives the advertiser useful information about what specifically worked and what didn’t.

When you deliver fantastic results for advertisers, they will choose your media again and again. As proof of our concept, nearly all advertisers who have even once tried our full-screen tablet advertising have done it again later. We served nearly 400 campaigns 2013, which is double the amount we served in 2012.

About Santtu Kottila

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