VP Hunter Says Comscore Focusing On Data Effectiveness Not Just Ad Effectiveness

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comScoreAnne Hunter is VP Advertising Effectiveness at comScore. She discussed comScore's products and initiatives around what's core to her role - advertising effectiveness - and, in particular, a new product called Campaign Essentials announced in September. Read the release.

AdExchanger.com: comScore has been thought of as the company that measures website traffic.  What is the AdEffx offering and how does it fit in with comScore’s place in the market?

AH: comScore Media Metrix is our audience ratings service and flagship product, which is why a lot of people associate the company with audience measurement. We’re trusted as the most reliable source of digital audience because it has been our core competency from day one.  Agencies, publishers and advertisers around the world rely on it to make important business decisions every day.

Advertising effectiveness research is a large and growing component of the comScore’s product offering building on our reputation for trusted digital measurement. Until about a year ago, the majority of our advertising effectiveness work was conducted on a custom basis for clients.  We’ve since developed AdEffx, a standardized product suite for measuring the impact of online campaigns.

Our audience verification product – called Campaign Essentials – is available in the same client interface as Media Metrix, which means clients can log-in on a daily basis to assess a campaign’s performance with digital GRP overnights, as well as verify audience and geographic delivery. Campaign Essentials uses the same people-based methodology as Media Metrix so clients can plan and measure performance using the same data, giving our clients the ability to understand how their topline strategies are driving actual campaign performance. This alignment is critical for marketers who want to understand why a particular campaign is working or which levers to pull when a campaign isn’t performing up to expectations.

If click isn't the right success metric for display according to marketers, what is?

comScore has been banging the drum for years that, in the wide majority of cases, click-through rates are not an appropriate measure of advertising effectiveness. I actually started working on this research when I was at TACODA in 2008. At the time, we partnered with comScore on a study called Natural Born Clickers, which showed that few people click on ads and those who do click on ads are not likely to be the right people for evaluating a campaign’s performance.  comScore updated the research this past year, and it showed that click-through rates have declined considerably from the first iteration of the study.  Despite comprising only 8% of the total online population, moderate and heavy clickers account for 85% of all click-throughs. And, 84% of people don’t click on any ads at all.  Unless a CMO wants to talk about her click-through rate in an investor call, we’re obliged to give her better information about how her campaign is performing.  Bottom line is that click-through rates completely ignore the latent branding and sales impact of advertising, leaving a lot of value on the table for everyone in the advertising ecosystem.

You recently launched Campaign Essentials.  What problem does this solve?

There are fundamental metrics that every advertiser needs. We like to think of these as the truths that transcend.  They are metrics that are important in other media, and they are important today in digital media as well.  These metrics include reach, frequency and GRPs as well as demographic and geographic verification. They help to answer essential questions about a campaign’s performance:

Is my campaign reaching my target audience? How often is it reaching them? Is it being delivered to the right geographic locations?  How many GRPs did it deliver and how does this compare to my offline spend?

We designed Campaign Essentials to allow measurement at granular levels and with built-in customization so clients can get the detailed answers they need for their specific business issues.  Some clients are using it to see which sites perform best in their media plan.  Others use it to compare the relative value of different data sets.  One client is using it to develop unduplicated GRPs for all their creative that is “TV-like,” such as homepage takeovers, pre-roll and interstitials.  The question this can answer will continue to grow as clients take advantage of the customization features.

It’s also important to note that this isn’t just a tool for advertisers and agencies. We have a lot of sell-side clients who buy Campaign Essentials so they can validate delivery for their clients as well as optimize campaign delivery on-the-fly. This helps them save money by eliminating wasted inventory and avoiding make-goods for their clients.

Are you seeing any convergence with other channels which is helping display?

Cross-media research is one of the largest areas of growth for comScore.  Building a cross-media model of effectiveness within digital is where comScore has significant expertise.

Our measurement is not just relegated to the digital world, however.  We also measure offline advertising effectiveness for offline media as well.   We’re definitely seeing that marketers are thinking more holistically about their media allocations now and want to understand the synergy between multiple media.  Our cross-media research with Brand Survey Lift and Action Lift is showing us that when you add digital display to a traditional media plan, the positive impact is greater than either one alone.  In order to help make cross-planning and measurement easier, marketers have been asking for GRPs and TRPs that are comparable for digital and offline media, which we deliver daily with our Campaign Essentials product.

Is comScore thinking about providing research around the topic of "data effectiveness"?  What are the challenges here?

Campaign Essentials is well designed to tackle the data effectiveness issue.  We have developed the product to enable clients to create reporting for various segments of their buy based on what they deem most important to their needs.  One common way, for example, is to look at the results from a “moms” segment from various data providers.  Because we are providing results daily in an online interface, clients can see quickly which provider is working and which is not.

One challenge in measuring data has been that so often the data providers themselves are trying to measure and verify campaign delivery with the same cookies they are using to target the ads.  It is dangerous to rely so heavily on cookies in this type of effectiveness measurement. For example, if their cookie assignment to a teenage girl in household is actually a fifty year old father because of a shared computer, the ability of the data providers to measure the quality of their own data is impossible because they don’t know the truth.  Because we use a Unified Digital Measurement solution, which combines census ad tags with our panel, we have insight into the actual demographic make-up of the person who received the ad behind the screen and can therefore more accurately assess the true quality of various data in cookie pools. This is a capability unique to comScore and a reason why clients are turning to us for audience verification.

By John Ebbert

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