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Lightbox and the art of ‘engagement’

by Jonny | 11.10.2012
Last week Google introduced a new ad format for their display network, the ‘Lightbox’. When a user hovers their mouse over the ad for 2 seconds then the ad will expand and the rest of the window will be dimmed with the idea being that only ‘engaged’ users will interact with the ad, removing the problem of accidental clicks costing advertisers money. According to Google’s blog this feature removes almost 100% of accidental expansions and increases engagement by 6-8X over standard click to expand ads, however from my own experience I haven’t found this to always be the case…

 Just yesterday on a website I was viewing, a lightbox ad expanded simply because that was where I happened to leave my mouse as I read the content on the site and consequently cost the advertiser money (Tesco in this case). Surely I can’t have been the only one that this has happened to, so Google’s claim that almost 100% of accidental expansions are removed can’t quite be right. That being said I thought the format looked good and could have engaged me if it was relevant to my interests at the time, so in the right context I definitely think it could work and especially for Brand awareness campaigns. Advertisers and web designers just need to be careful that relevancy is high and placement on the site is good to avoid the kind of accidental hover that I experienced.