Marketers: Embrace Today’s Consumer Complexity And Technology

jayfriedmannewData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Jay Friedman, COO at Goodway Group.

After the Super Bowl, my family had this conversation:

Wife to son: Did you watch the ads?

Son: No.

Wife: That’s half the fun.

Son: I was on my phone.

Me: People spent $5 million for you to watch each ad.

Son: They should have put an ad on my phone then.

However, I asked him a few days later if he’d heard of PuppyMonkeyBaby. Yep. I then asked him what brand it was. “Mountain Dew, Dad. Duh.”

While he didn’t watch the ads, or at least claimed not to, some clearly stuck. This makes it complicated to measure my son and hundreds of millions of other consumers.

Throughout the industry, you find people who are excited about buying media and measuring its effectiveness – or lament the complexity of it. I find those lamenting its imperfection akin to those who bemoan drugs that prolong life but don’t cure the disease.

We’re facing a few simple truths that, if we accept them, make dealing with today’s complexity easier and more manageable. This allows marketers to get the most out of digital media without throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Digital advertising has come a long way in terms of measuring success and effectiveness, but it cannot meet all of the expectations set for it, at least not at the pace at which the industry moves. Until it does, marketers need to embrace the complexities and then focus on the results.

Directional Viewability

How amazing would it be if we could measure viewability and attention in all media, ranging from the outdoor board on the side of the road to the ad in the elevator in your office building and the ad on the radio during the commute home?

None of these are measurable, so no one questions them. Yet because we can measure viewability in digital, we’ve spent years debating whether or not it’s perfect enough. I’ve personally looked at the raw data around viewability, and it’s incredibly messy.

However, it’s definitely good enough to point advertisers in the right general direction for achieving viewability success. Once an advertiser is pointed in the right direction, it’s time to focus on results.

Unmeasured Attention

While viewability is directionally measurable, attention really isn’t. This goes for all media. The TV ad may not have been skipped via DVR, but that doesn’t mean the consumer absorbed it at all. The outdoor billboard may not have been seen at all. Conversely, it may have been viewed for one-third of a second and actually had an impact.

In digital, if a consumer is exposed to a mobile interstitial but has his or her thumb hovering and eyes focused on the “x” during the countdown, only thinking about how quickly they can close the ad, was that a desirable view? We cannot yet effectively measure attention at the time an ad runs. But, with good fraud detection and directional viewability, we can get close enough to start focusing on brand lift, sales lift and return on advertising spend (ROAS).

Undesirable Traffic

Having looked into the raw data and patterns around fraud, I agree with AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley when he states, “… there are more and more ‘corner cases,’” or situations where engineers and data scientists must decide what is or isn’t ad fraud.

Part of this reasoning is that those perpetrating the fraud are getting better at creating traffic that looks like corner cases. Any marketer that dives deep enough into understanding fraud and the corner cases is more likely to throw their hands up in frustration, rather than achieving an understanding and charting a plan. The good news is that our industry has numerous players that can help monitor or eliminate a “good enough for now” portion of this traffic – so that measuring ROAS and results is directionally accurate.

In 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s son was about to undergo a risky operation to attempt treatment on his strep throat. Instead, they tried Prontosil, the first commercially available antibiotic. It worked. The nation didn’t lament this new drug for not curing all bacterial infections. The nation embraced the drug for what it could do. Advertisers would be wise to take the same approach with digital advertising measurement and technology.

Follow Jay Friedman (@jaymfriedman) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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