When Spending Digital Ad Budgets, Brands Face An Uphill Battle

stephenupstoneOn TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in programmatic TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Stephen Upstone, CEO and founder of LoopMe.

Brand marketers hire media agencies to streamline the advertising process, remove barriers and deliver clear and measurable ROI. The recent news that the MRC suspended two DoubleClick For Publishers metrics and the controversy over Facebook’s measurement methodology suggest digital is not delivering on this promise.

As an industry, digital is maybe the worst culprit for creating an impenetrable environment, full of acronyms, viewability issues and performance analytics that are impossible for time-poor marketers to understand.

It doesn’t need to be this way. There’s no reason we can’t make digital clear, understandable and transparent across the board. That includes verification and the use of metrics and KPIs that help brands truly measure performance, particularly as newer formats gain popularity, such as video and virtual reality.

Third-party tracking for viewability and brand safety should always be in place. No matter how big or small, ad tech providers should be able to give evidence that their campaign delivered in view, in brand-safe environments, to human traffic.

Roughly 53% of campaigns are not viewable, despite the topic being at the top of conference agendas for at least two years. Only now after its recent measurement controversy is Facebook providing third-party viewability data for display campaigns, but it still won’t allow buyers to use their own trackers.

Advances do still need to be made in technology. If VPAID video ad inventory remains limited on the mobile web, viewability will remain difficult to track. However, that is no reason for the industry to be slow on the uptake when it comes to verification. If brands do not receive clear information on who saw their ads and where, they will continue to be distrustful of the industry.

Brand also need better metrics and KPIs that can be delivered on. Today, they are forced to use CPT (cost per thousand), CPV (cost per view), CPCV (cost per completed view), VCR (video completion rate), VCPM (viewable cost per thousand), CTR (click-through rate), ER (engagement rate) – the list goes on. Not only are the acronyms problematic, how do these metrics relate to brand goals, such as sales? They often don’t – there is virtually no link between CTR and sales, according to Nielsen.

Even if one digital metric is used – say video completion rate – it is not always easy to judge a campaign’s performance across formats or providers. A 30% completion rate for a skippable native format should be considered a good result, while a 60% completion rate for a non-skip pre-roll is a poor one.

It’s an issue Snapchat influencers are facing following the removal of autoplay content – view counts have substantially dropped since users were given the choice to view or skip video content, making campaigns appear less successful than they were a month ago. When scanning results, it’s easy to miss subtle distinctions, which could mean a perceived successful campaign actually underperformed, or vice versa.

Rather than requiring brands to master dozens of complex metrics, why don’t ad tech providers and publishers speak the brands’ language? Advertising campaigns are commissioned to affect brand metrics or drive purchase intent, awareness or product recall. At the end of a campaign, it should be clear that the ad drove a 40% increase in purchase intent or footfall in-store, with the number of clicks or views becoming – while interesting – largely irrelevant.

In today’s always-on mobile age, digital advertising is a hugely important part of the marketing mix. If the industry commits to transparency and streamlines the advertising process, it will be far easier for brands to understand and embrace the worth of digital advertising.

Follow LoopMe (@LoopMe) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

Editor’s note: This column has been updated to clarify the accreditation status of the DoubleClick For Publishers metrics.

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1 Comment

  1. Stephen,
    I enjoyed the article but one thing doesn’t seem correct. Google did loose accredited status but that was more about a rule change per the link in this post. IAB, MMA and MRC still have a lot of work just getting their heads around digital metrics.

    What I agree with you the most is digital should not be measured so much on impressions, cost and click but rather net results. Many tradition media buying agencies focus on Impressions since that is what they understand not what is best.

    We always want to know what is the 2nd click after they click the ad. This is where heavy use of analytics and funnel development will show the real value. Create the base lines then impressions, clicks and budgets become a math problem not a KPI.