Q&A with InSkin Media APAC boss Angeline Lodhia: We’ll always be fixated on CTR even though it’s misleading


Angeline Lodhia has been with advertising technology firm InSkin Media for more than seven years, initially as commercial manager before promotion to her current role as GM in September 2013.

In this Q&A with Mumbrella Asia’s Robin Hicks, Angeline talks of the fixation with CTR, rejects the notion that creativity in Asia is poor, reveals how InSkin has been impacted by ad blockers and offers her pick of the region’s display ads.

Click-through rates for digital display have fallen everywhere around the world, and are now down to a fraction of a percent. Why would any client buy a display ad, which consumers either do not notice, ignore or find irritating?

Quality comes at a price. As much as click-through-rates have fallen, so has price for these low quality ads. The challenge for marketers is maximising the marketing budget while demonstrating ROI.

The pressure to maximise each dollar often leads to the temptation to buy low cost inventory which offers a large SOV but not necessarily of the right target audience. Combined with fraudulent ads mis-sold as low cost ads, that is a significant wastage of investment.

There will always be an industry wide fixation on CTR, even though there is also widespread agreement that CTR is a misleading form of measurement, especially with the whole debate of accidental vs. considered clicks.

InSkin takes this seriously. We believe that without considering other insightful metrics, such as dwell time, CTR does not prove real engagement, or demonstrate the full story.

Anecdotally at least, I have noticed that in Asia the importance of dwell time is slowly growing and showing up in more briefs. I’d say this also accompanies a realisation that irritating ads create a negative user experience.

Increasingly we’re seeing advertisers use digital for branding campaigns, where engagement is not effectively measured in click-through rates, and creativity takes a lead and becomes a more important factor in campaigns, delivering impact, awareness and recall.

Ultimately it depends on the campaign objectives.

Creativity in digital display has never reached the heights of television, print or any other traditional medium. Do advertising creatives not care about digital display? Why is digital creativity so poor on the whole in Asia?

I disagree that digital creativity is poor in Asia, and that digital display lags behind other media, like print and outdoor. If anything, I think that digital display, like TV, allows for visually engaging stories supported with sound, video and animation, delivering more emotive advertising stories.

I think that digital campaign elements, which are so often an afterthought, need to be considered much earlier in the campaign lifecycle, so that bespoke assets fitting to the environment can be created and exploited.

Advertising is storytelling and relies on an impactful creative execution. The web is cluttered with ad formats, and as a result the audience is turning a blind eye to basic display ad formats.

This creates a challenge for marketers to create stand out and have their ad seen and noticed in a non-intrusive way that creates genuine user engagement with the ad.

InSkin’s in-house design team deliver creatives that catch the user’s attention and ensure that the brand message stays in the user’s eyeline during their online experience, without interrupting their content consumption. Our formats offer a large creative canvas, so campaign content can be integrated into the ad itself, driving user engagement with the brand.

Globally, we’re seeing the digital medium mature and creatively diversify. As tech continues to improve – from hardware, to internet connections, to ad formats – the opportunities for creative solutions online will only continue to improve.

Which in your view are the best display ads ever created for Asia’s markets, and why?

From an InSkin perspective, the Häagen-Dazs PageSkin Plus campaign, which is live at the moment so very topical, has lovely product entry animation, with the logo prominent and strong campaign messaging.

The sidebar visuals on scroll are particularly impressive, as the background ripples and the chocolate icecream cases crack and shatter on the way down the page!


This Universal Pictures – Jason Bourne Page Skin Plus is a simple and powerful creative. Initially, the eye is drawn to Matt Damon and the campaign messaging, which animates in nicely.


We limit animation to 20 seconds to protect the user experience. The movie trailer is incorporated into the header unit, playing without sound. On scroll, campaign visuals and messaging seamlessly appear in the sidebars, keeping the campaign in the user’s eyeline without obscuring the content.

In terms of performance, this creative got a 83.30% viewability rate, and a 1.19% CTR.

Another one worth mentioning, is the Yves Saint Laurent PageSkin Plus from a couple of years ago. It really demonstrates the potential for building brands online.

Away from InSkin, ads that have a interactive element and blend with the content and give more value I feel are more effective.

For example, I saw a takeover on Clozette for a fragrance.

Rather than just filling in the banners and skyscrapers the design was bespoke for the creative space and included a video which felt part of the content. It was relevant, eye catching yet non intrusive.

Ads which have striking creative, an element of light interaction, and crucially, are not intrusive and irritating. Adidas, Swarovski, BMW, Audi, Disney are some of the brands who strike this balance very well. They refine the consumer journey, making it easier and a more enjoyable user experience.

Asian audiences vary from nation to nation as much as anywhere in the world. One thing I have noticed however is that there’s a sizable trend towards emotional advertising that plays well in some markets.

As Mumbrella has reported previously, ads which have an emotional hook and an aspirational message tend to be successful in certain Asian markets.

Online display ads which have the ability to host videos deliver an impactful experience and, unlike TV, their effect can be measured.

For example, the Standard Chartered ‘Here for Generations, Here for Good’ ad is very touching. It shows a high ranking professional taking time out of his busy schedule to spend time with his family. These messages are powerful in a society that values family.

What sort of ads tend not to work well at all? Can you give examples of ads that don’t work in Asia?

What does and doesn’t work really depends on the client’s objectives. Performance-based campaigns have different KPI’s to branding campaigns.

When I moved to Asia the most striking and amusing format I found was the ‘crazy takeover’. Seriously, why would any user be happy about seeing a crazy ad disrupting the online viewing experience on the publisher site!?

They surely get seen but for the wrong reasons, which may not to a genuine conversion. The advertiser’s choice of format is a reflection of the tone in which you speak to your consumer.

How much has your business been affected by ad blockers, which are designed to stop your formats from spoiling the internet user’s experience and slowing down load times?

I think your question raises an important point about how ad-blocking is a product of consumer dissatisfaction with online advertising.

Studies such as IAB UK, Nielsen Video on Demand and Hubsport Research have shown that most users are accepting of the concept of an ad-funded internet, as long as those ads are not overly intrusive and annoying. Ads which obscure content (pop-ups/interstitials), autoplay videos with sound, and ads which affect page-loading times are all intrusive and annoying.

We work very closely with our publisher partners to focus on the user experience and ensure that our non-standard ad formats are non-intrusive. They wrap the page so never obscure content, don’t load until all page content has loaded, so don’t slow web pages, and clicks are only triggered by deliberate user action.

InSkin takes the responsibility as a rich-media creative business to operate on loaded impressions which improves viewability as we don’t count ad impressions if the user has left the page before the ad is fully loaded.

How do you see the future of digital display panning out, given the rise of native replacing display and ad blockers?

Creativity is becoming a much more important factor. It actually breaks my heart when I see brands invest so much money and time to develop amazing creative ideas that get hidden in tiny formats below the fold.

Digital is no longer simply a sales extension, but a platform to build brands, and engage users.

Measurement metrics are also moving beyond the click, and KPIs will change to incorporate dwell time, engagement and viewability.


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