Last Friday, three key ad industry associations released their guiding principles of digital measurement. These principles relate almost exclusively to brand-focused display advertising online. As web analytics becomes more and more sophisticated there has been a strong argument for additional spending in traditional media because in some instances it is more measurable than online advertising. The real problem is that web and say, television advertising are measured differently and we can’t currently use the same metrics for web and tv. These “new” metrics encourage web marketers to start measuring online advertising with the same criteria that traditional advertising is measured with.
“1. Move to a ‘viewable impressions’ standard and count real exposures online.”
Here’s the problem. Any online ad serving platform will provide you with impression data. What we don’t know is if a visitor to that page really saw the ad. The servers know that the ad was placed on a specific URL – what they don’t necessarily know is where on the page the ad was and if that specific visitor scrolled far enough down on that page to actually see the ad. Tricky huh? Google is actually making great strides in solving this problem both with their traditional AdWords solution and with DoubleClick reporting. In AdWords content network campaigns you can select that your ads do not show below the fold of a page. DoubleClick Rich Media reporting can also include the following metrics: impressions that started above the fold, impressions that started below the fold, impressions that started below the fold but were scrolled to above the fold, and total number of impressions that were above the fold at some point during the visitors session.
“2. Online Advertising must migrate to a currency based on audience impressions, not gross ad impressions.”
Brand marketers want to buy an audience versus direct-marketers who want to target a user who is going to buy/enroll/submit. Brand marketers know how to buy audiences within traditional advertising based on radio formats, television demographic data etc. We’re just starting to see more behavioral targeting options available to online advertisers. Although with privacy laws potentially changing this could become even more difficult online. Not only do brand marketers want to be able to buy an audience, they want to evaluate the quality of the audience that they bought after the fact. I may not visit CNN.com everyday – but if there was as big news story that day I might have. The true audience of a site can vary greatly from day to day online, at a much greater extent than is seen with television advertising.
“3. Because not all ad units are created equal, we must create a transparent classification system.”
Online ads come in a variety of different shapes and sizes compared to traditional advertising. Not only are there different sizes, but you could have a static ad, animated ad or click-to-play video ad all bidding for the same placement. Comparing different ad formats on the same placement is nearly impossible and makes ad planning completely different for each ad format as well, as each will have drastically different interaction rates. And those are just a few ad options without mentioning expandable ads, homepage takeovers, etc.
“4. Determine interactivity ‘metrics that matter’ for brand marketers, so that marketers can better evaluate online’s contribution to brand building.”
The only real metric that brand marketers have to evaluate brand performance across ad placements is click through rate. One metric alone is not adequate in measuring the impact that online advertising is having on a brand and is quite irrelevant when it comes to brand building. I also believe that online shouldn’t be assessed on its own for brand growth – online is almost always a piece of an integrated marketing campaign, and measuring how all those pieces work together is the real challenge facing brand advertisers.
“5. Digital media measurement must become increasingly comparable and integrated with other media.”
Again, no one channel is working on its own. Marketers really have to look big picture and begin to understand the entire advertising landscape in order to make sophisticated planning and buying decisions.
Online advertising and planning is almost entirely retroactive. Run a campaign, see how it does and make changes accordingly. How did that campaign A do compared to campaign B that ran on a similar placement six-months ago? Online advertising needs to enter into a proactive measurement and planning stage before we’ll really see massive shifts of advertising dollars away from television and into the online space.
Read the full Online Media post here.