One of the greatest advantages of digital advertising over traditional media has been the ability for marketers to measure and report on the effectiveness of their ads. Linking advertising to consumer action and understanding the nuances of performance has long been the promise of advertising online. But despite more than 20 years of innovation, effective measurement and proving the value of marketing still remain major challenges for brands and advertisers.
Marketers will continue to push for better metrics and measures of performance, particularly now as digital advertising is clouded in uncertainty. The reduced budgets and widespread pausing of campaigns at present means marketers need to ensure what they are spending is done so efficiently and effectively.
Prior to this year, estimates suggested that advertising spend was expected to reach $172.29 billion in 2021, dwarfing estimates for traditional media. By 2023, that number was expected to grow by 14% to $201.83 billion. If these estimates still ring true, the increase in ad spend will mean there will be a growing need for better measurement tools and approaches.
In light of this, how are marketers approaching their measurement strategies differently for the new decade? And how is their thinking evolving amid the plethora of advanced metrics that are available today? Here are 3 industry shifts that are transforming the future of measurement.
When the Media Rating Council, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Association of National Advertisers, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies established the guidelines for ad verification, they set out to eliminate inconsistencies in measurement. Most marketers now evaluate whether an ad is valid, viewable, and brand safe as the baseline measure of performance.
As digital advertising continues to demand a greater share of the marketing budget, however, marketers will increasingly demand more from their measurement strategies to justify the higher investment. Relying solely on verification will no longer be enough.
That’s why innovative marketers are moving beyond the verification floor to build higher goals for the success of their campaigns by measuring their impact on consumer action.
The advanced metrics that go beyond valid, viewable, and brand-safe impressions to reveal how consumers are paying attention to advertising online are becoming increasingly critical to ensuring ad spend is optimized and waste is limited. These attention signals are helping marketers not only understand the effectiveness of ads across channels, platforms, and devices, but also get to the core of their desired outcomes and reveal opportunities for monetization.
For example, in display campaigns, marketers assess performance beyond basic verification by tapping into attention signals such as active-page dwell time, in-view time, interaction rate, and interaction time. Individually, these 4 metrics reveal how long users are paying attention to the content on the page and the surrounding advertising. Collectively, however, these metrics help marketers determine the total time spent with ads so they can compare performance against industry benchmarks, other campaigns, or date ranges—which helps identify opportunities for optimization.
When brands and advertisers move beyond ad verification in their measurement strategies, so, too, will publishers, and they will need to change how they measure and report on inventory. For publishers, though, rethinking measurement means a whole new approach to media quality.
Publishers are tasked with demonstrating to brands and agencies that their environments, content, and audiences are premium. This allows them to command a greater share of advertising dollars in a highly competitive environment. But to do so, they need to tell a compelling media-quality story. And that story has to be more sophisticated than basic brand safety and viewability.
When publishers measure media quality only in terms of brand safety, viewability, and invalid traffic, they’re missing out on other important signals that reveal comprehensive insight into how their ads are performing.
The truth is, in the same way that there are multiple ways for marketers to measure attention, there are myriad factors that influence media quality, including page and ad clutter, ad formats, photo galleries, site experience, and traffic quality. Forward-thinking publishers understand this and are therefore able to tell compelling stories to their brand and advertising partners.
Today’s TV and video landscape has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. The explosion of streaming services, connected devices, and second-screen use has revolutionized how people find and consume content. This presents a major challenge for marketers when the traditional advertising metrics they’ve relied on don’t translate to their new media mix. Inevitably, marketers are forced to evolve their measurement strategy to accommodate new and emerging channels and devices.
Take the rise of Over-The-Top (OTT) and Connected TV (CTV) devices as an example. Whether you come from a digital or linear background, advertising on OTT and CTV devices forces you to rethink your approach to measurement. Marketers cannot implement a clicks-based measurement strategy to OTT or CTV, nor can they rely on the Nielsen TV ratings or Gross Rating Points (GRPs) to measure digital ad performance.
Consistent and standardized metrics are needed here that adequately measure depth of consumer attention across the range of media channels they use, so we can assess the apples-to-apples impact of ads on these channels. Again, we’re lucky enough to be at that point today—and we’re seeing metrics such as interaction rates, video completion, audibility, screen real estate, and frequency across devices become more commonplace as advertisers devote more budget to OTT and CTV.
As we enter the new decade, marketers can take confidence in the fact that new technology is paving the way for a more transparent and measurable digital marketing ecosystem. With the ability to measure campaigns more precisely and accurately, not only will marketers be empowered to deliver better results for their clients, but the entire digital advertising industry will see improvement—publishers will be able to drive more revenue, agencies will be able to launch more effective strategies, and brands will be able to understand how consumers respond and interact with their brands in the wild.