How FT’s Investment In Brand Lift Measurement Is Maximizing Its Branded Content Strategy

The Financial Times is investing more in brand lift measurement as part of its strategy to better monetize branded content.

“Our advertisers are focusing on brand lift as a success measure,” said Enzo Diliberto, the FT’s global insight director. “It sits alongside other engagement measures, such as page views and scroll depth, as fundamental to the bedrock of our proposition.”

In January, as part of its ongoing investment in brand lift measurement, the Financial Times entered into an exclusive partnership with analytics firm Brand Metrics. Before this, the duo worked together for five years on a nonexclusive basis.

FT takes what Diliberto called a multiplatform approach to branded content, with options for creating sponsored articles, multi-article hubs, videos and dedicated microsites.

Brand Metrics helps FT with cross-device brand lift measurement for display ads and branded content.

Its solution works by placing a script on a publisher’s site that is integrated with Google Ad Manager and keeps track of exposures to a campaign’s order ID, said Brand Metrics Global Insight Director Sean Adams. Order IDs are generated by Ad Manager and help multiple partners make sure they’re all referring to the same campaign.

Once the Brand Metrics algorithm identifies an exposure to an ad or a piece of sponsored content, that same user is then served a one-question survey during a later site visit.

The survey typically appears as a mid-page unit on mobile or as a popup on desktop. The multiple-choice answers are written to try and figure out where users are in their journey through the marketing funnel based on four metrics: awareness, consideration, preference and intent.

For example, a survey question might ask users how familiar they are with a given brand’s product, and the answers might be “I’ve never heard of it,” “I’ve heard of it, but I’m not interested,” “I’ve heard of it, and I’m interested in buying” or “I buy that product all the time.”

The algorithm targets users at different exposure levels and compares the results of those who have seen campaign-related content once to those who have seen it more frequently and in different formats, Adams said. This helps to identify the role campaign exposure plays in brand lift.

Because the solution relies on a first-party cookie rather than third-party cookies, FT considers it a futureproof solution, Diliberto said. No personal identifiable information is collected on users, and FT readers consent to surveys and measurement in their account settings, he said.

The FT can access a portal to view the campaign results and compile reports. The campaigns are divided into 19 macro categories (like finance) and 123 micro categories (like credit cards or investment). Globally, the Brand Metrics system has been used to measure more than 15,000 campaigns, with hundreds of new campaigns being added each week.

“Because we’re using the same methodology across hundreds of campaigns every week, FT is able to see how this particular campaign performed against our benchmark averages,” Adams said. “Across all publishers, brand lift can vary, but campaigns typically see between 4% and 8% uplift on average.”

FT and Brand Metrics are also codeveloping a solution to tie customer-log-level data into the brand lift measurement algorithm with an eye on GDPR compliance. The tool would enable cross-site measurement and browser-level measurement.

“FT has been good at pushing us to get things off the product development queue,” Adams said.

This article has been updated to clarify that Brand Metrics’ brand lift measurement solution has been used to measure 15,000 campaigns globally. The previous version stated that it had been used to measure 15,000 campaigns for the Financial Times.

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