For most of its still-young life, online advertising has worshipped at the altar of the ‘almighty click-through’. If the click-through rate (CTR) was high, says the logic, the ad must have worked. After all, people wouldn’t have clicked on it otherwise.
That might be true for ads designed to sell products and services and thus present an immediate return-on-investment (ROI), but it’s not quite as solid a measurement for brand-building. In fact, the lack of brand focus in the past has had a trickle-down impact on everyone involved in digital advertising, from the agency to networks to publishers.
When the click-through rules the roost it drives everyone to the completely wrong side of the funnel, where they focus solely on price to improve ROI. Demand-side platforms (DSPs) and ad exchanges have become a breeding ground for cheap inventory and cookie bombing and, therefore, have alienated premium publishers from their buyers.
But finally, the tide is turning and companies are beginning to seek standard metrics that matter for brands. Thankfully, new brand measures are being promoted by a few leading companies and are helping those companies take a stand on behalf of publishers – a platform to educate the market on the value of quality inventory and well-branded exposure, within context, to a target audience.
Viewable impression measures, where the ‘success’ of an ad is based not on click-through rates but on its view-ability and clarity within the browser window, are taking off. They’re giving marketers a standardised view of these creative metrics that highlight exposure, view time, and engagement, and then benchmark those metrics against the industry, category, and creative format.
Crucially, this information will give marketers the confidence to shift more spend to digital – because they demonstrate that brand-building can work just as well online as offline.
And brand-building marketers need a relationship with a credible partner. When trying to measure view-ability via the DSP, ad exchange, or supply-side platform (SSP), rather than directly measuring viewable impressions in browser windows, there is often a massive loss of fidelity due to unfriendly iframes and multiple inventory hand-offs. With such a complex ecosystem of technology lying between the advertising brand and the publisher, accurate measurement is a must.
Therefore, to truly measure the impact for marketers and understand the quality of the creative execution, brands need a mechanism that is executed within the ad server or directly from the publisher's page. Using that type of mechanism promotes equality among the inventory being purchased, empowering the buyer and seller with information that can be used to fairly judge price, quality, and effectiveness.
The industry needs a better set of metrics, capable of demonstrating more than just click-through rates, if it wants to drive more brands to spend more of their budget with digital media. It’s even more important if it wants to generate a genuine quality approach.
by Larry Allen, senior vice-president, business development at Real Media Group