Your Ad Was Displayed Cross-Screen, But Was It Actually Seen?

jeffbandersellsiderData-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 Ephraim Bander, president and chief revenue officer at Sticky.

The simple days of advertising to consumers via television, radio, and print are gone for good. These mediums still exist and remain popular, but digital advertising is taking an increasingly large share of the market. It’s challenging the status quo, not just as a desired advertising platform, but also for optimal campaign planning and ad execution.

The medium also continues to change quickly. Digital advertising has moved well beyond banner ads to reach consumers on their mobile phones and tablets, and even through digital out-of-home (DOOH) screens.

With all of these screens, we can reach consumers in more places than ever before, but that brings with it the possibility of information overload. A consumer can easily tire of or ignore certain ads if they show up on every screen they see. Cross-screen marketing has emerged as a way to help brands get their message to consumers across devices in a smart, cohesive way, extending reach while using techniques such as frequency capping to make sure consumers aren’t inundated.

This is a great first step, but an expensive one. It means buying and building collateral for inventory on multiple platforms of multiple sizes and multiple degrees of personalization. It’s a worthwhile idea, but it’s important to make sure that ads are actually viewed by the consumers they’re aimed at across all screens.

The Media Rating Council Viewable Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines (PDF) are a start here, but they really only cover traditional web collateral. It’s still hard to tell if inventory sold on apps, DOOH screens or elsewhere is actually viewable. It’s difficult for brands to commit to a cross-screen campaign if they only have insight into how certain types of screens will work and whether their ads will be viewable on those screens. Instead, it is crucial to provide insight into viewability across the full spectrum of available digital inventory, especially since both viewability and cross-screen targeting continue to be of increasing importance to the market.

But we really shouldn’t even stop there. The MRC viewability guidelines are really good at rating what can be seen, but they don’t ultimately provide any insight into what is actually seen. As I’ve written before, we need to start looking beyond viewability metrics and examine more closely what is happening to an ad after a marketer executes their end of the deal. An ad may run, and it may be viewable, but did people actually see it?  Traditional tools like market research studies, and newer ones like biometric observation, can help us gain insights here. But they have to be leveraged holistically across all digital platforms if we want to truly realize the potential of integrated cross-screen campaigns.

It’s not enough for an agency or buyers to tell marketers that their ads were deployed to a consumer’s desktop computer and mobile device, as well as to a nearby DOOH screen. Brands deserve to know that their money is being spent wisely, which means knowing that their ads are being seen in all of those places, too.

Follow Ephraim Bander (@Stickyadman), Sticky (@sticky_ad), and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. You say, “… insight into viewability across the full spectrum of available digital inventory …”. My son, an ads graphic designer, just had his work span both sides of Times Square’s huge screens, across both sides of Broadway — orchestrating 10 screens simultaneously. He went from a “micro” animation on his laptop’s 13″ screen to expand as a “macro” collective mosaic spanning the Broadway-Times Square panorama.

    As for your “need to … examine more closely what is happening to an ad after a marketer executes their end of the deal”, I should hope so; Who would post a Times Square ad for the fun of it? Obviously the marketer should monitor the ad’s “responsiveness” from feedback triggers the designer embedded in the ad.