Although spending on online display advertising continues to rise, brand advertisers are not using their advertising dollars online in the volumes commensurate with the overall online media consumption. One of the roadblocks preventing online display advertising from becoming more prevalent for branding is the lack of a reliable, meaningful measurement system to measure brand lift. Brand advertising dollars will only come online in a big way when brand managers have an effective and relevant means of tracking the return on investment of online display advertising, just like they do in other mediums such as TV and radio.
Although one of the major selling points of online advertising is the ability to track results, measuring the brand impact of online brand display advertising has not been as easy primarily because most providers of online advertising services are focused on traffic and CTR’s (click-through rate) as a measurement of campaign success. While CTR’s are an important measurement for direct response type campaigns, such as search advertising and lead generation, they do not give good insight as to whether an online display advertising campaign is really raising brand lift.
To attract more brand advertising dollars for online display ad campaigns, publishers, ad exchange networks and media buying agencies need to adopt a reliable online brand advertising measurement system that measures the brand lift associated with ad campaigns instead of the CTR’s. Publishers and media buying agencies know that click-through rates are meaningless measurements for brand campaigns, and that when their campaigns are measured against such metric they are likely to be seen as failing. By offering brand lift measurement as a campaign metric a lot of discomfort experienced by brand advertisers can be removed.
Several companies are working on technologies that help publishers and online media agencies measure whether their ad campaigns meet their branding goals. Although the systems these companies are offering cannot fully bridge the measurement gap between display ad exposure and actual purchases, they provide a way to measure subtle factors, such as the impact of different advertising messages, that systems originally developed for monitoring actual purchases fail to do.
One company working in this area is Vizu whose Ad Catalyst service provides users with ways of measuring and improving brand lift. The Vizu Ad Catalyst system uses brand lift, instead of CTR; to measure the effectiveness of online display advertising campaigns in real-time.
Ad Catalyst is using a survey-based analysis method where people are asked a question immediately after they have seen a display ad. Ad Catalyst tracks a control group and an experiment group. The experiment group sees the campaign display ad. A group of similar people, who haven’t seen the display ad, make up the control group. Ad Catalyst then surveys people from both groups to see how viewing or not viewing the display ad impacted their feelings about the brand promoted in the ad. What is unique to the Vizu survey method is that it asks just one question. The survey question itself changes with each survey, and is based on the specific goal set for a particular campaign. This has benefits; the most important one is that it increases the response rate compared to longer surveys where participants must respond to multiple questions. Ad Catalyst also produces significant results for much smaller ad campaigns or for panels within larger campaigns faster, allowing brand advertisers and agencies to compare results from different publisher Web sites and fine-tune their campaigns much easier.
Based on the results of the survey Ad Catalyst adjusts the display ad campaign accordingly. Ad Catalyst breaks down the results by ad creative and campaign as well, so that publishers and media buying agencies can see how each individual effort is affecting brand awareness. It even shows them the exact results of the surveys they gave to both groups and breaks it down by control group and experiment. Relying on surveys may not be as exact as the hard data measurement systems collect from CTR and clicks but it is one way of measuring awareness and intent in people in regards to a brand.
Vizu’s main customers are online ad networks and Web publishers. They use the Vizu results primarily as a way to show their accountability to ad agencies and brand advertisers. Some agencies and brand advertisers also contract with Vizu directly. When working with publisher partners Vizu charges on a per campaign basis. Publishers typically will buy by a package of 5 or 10 campaigns and then sell the Vizu service as an integrated part of their offerings.
Media buying agencies often purchase the Vizu service on a per campaign basis, as their media budget is allocated in that manner. As agencies become more comfortable with the Vizu service they typically transfer to a subscription model, which allows them to more tightly integrate those services into their offerings. Vizu charges between $5,000 to $10,000 per campaign, which allows media buying agencies to fit it in their regular campaign budget on a campaign-by-campaign basis. The Vizu service also provides some insight on the impact of frequency, obtained from cookies that track how often a given person has been exposed to a particular display ad and where the ad was viewed.
Vizu Ad Catalyst can offer online publishers, ad exchange network and media buying agencies a range of benefits that can add value to their respective media inventory and campaign management services:
In the near future we are sure to see more products and services that allow publishers, brand managers, ad networks and media buyers to measure the effectiveness of their display ad campaigns. Display ad campaigns offer more than just traffic and click-throughs. With the right tools publishers, ad networks and media buying agencies can increase the positive awareness of a brand as well, which can greatly improve the revenue derived from brand advertisers.
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