Millward Brown: Publisher Ad Effectiveness Linked To Brand, Site Context

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Both site content and a publisher's brand perception have significant impact on overall ad effectiveness, a new Millward Brown Digital publisher study reveals.

The study, titled "Publisher Impact," surveyed a sample group of 4,000 respondents, asking them to rate 40-some publishers across five categories for site "experience." The end goal? Help premium publishers justify their position as a "premium" inventory source.

“This is one of the first studies or solutions that really tries to think of sites as actual brands, and tries to understand what that impact it,” said senior client service analyst Hannah Pavalow at Millward Brown Digital. “In advertising, we often think a lot about product branding and creative. But it’s important to understand the bigger picture of what the context is.”

The study used a set of dimensions to "quantify" online consumer experience, and determined  that advertising efficiency is linked intrinsically to visitor experience. The six dimensions that shape online consumer experience include: meaningful difference, personality, touch points, site pedigree, visit catalyst and everyday relevance.

"Publisher Impact" used each dimension to quantify online ad awareness for a given site. The site pedigree dimension, for example, showed that the most established site measured had an online ad-awareness score 128% higher than the average. Sites that indexed in the top 10 % of the everyday relevance category, or the frequency with which consumers return to the publisher site, scored on average 97% higher in online ad awareness.

These scores, according to Pavalow, help publishers differentiate themselves beyond standard metrics such as click-through rate and page views. Publisher "perception," in other words, plays a role in visitor responsiveness and therefore can be used to justify premiums.

“This… gives premium publishers dimensions that they can actually quantify,” explained Pavalow. “Often, publishers claim their site has impact, or that their brand is really strong, but can’t quantify it. The main thing is that publishers can actually point to the numbers and say why they’re a better place to advertise.”

Although the Millward Brown study makes the case for premium publisher inventory, in some ways it negates the concept of programmatic advertising. One of the main arguments is that advertiser's focus on audience "reach" can downplay publisher site and brand "relevance,"  although, one could argue programmatic direct deals alleviate this concern.

“Currently, audience-based programmatic buying only looks at demographics as a way to find people,” said Pavolow. “One of the issues that we see is that agencies don’t actually know where they’re reaching a person. They may reach the right person, but not necessarily reach them in the right place.”

The basis of this argument is that publisher particularities are equally as important as audience.

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One Response to “Millward Brown: Publisher Ad Effectiveness Linked To Brand, Site Context”


  1. Keith Pieper says:

    I think what advertisers will find is that the sweet spot is the combination of context and audience that makes the most sense. The challenge with this it does not "scale" according to conventional wisdom. But if you are hitting the right people, place and time, what is scale? Certainly not the same as what media buyers traditionally consider scale, which included a significant amount of waste.

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