We have always been skeptical of marketing departments that focus so intently on the top line measurements generated thru analytics on the net. What does a click mean? It is activating an action you wish to seen taken? Does it evolve into a sale? Did it generate an inquiry?
Often the answer is no. We need to know what we are measuring and what we are receiving for the dollars we spend online. The analytics of the net need to improve, and we need to better understand what the results mean.
It can start from how we build the campaigns, and how we understand the consumers we are attempting to reach. This article speaks to those points and helps us understand some of the new direction the industry is looking at.
Time For Reach And Frequency To Replace Clicks?
by Sean Hargrave
Marketers have good reason to question the metrics they use to buy and evaluate digital campaigns. If you are wondering if things were not so bad in the old days of always buying an audience based on reach and frequency, you are most definitely not alone.
- Up to half of all advertising may never be seen because it is displayed below the ‘fold’ of the screen.
- A feeling is growing among marketers that in the rush to be digital, some of the benefits of the old way of doing things may have been lost.
- Mobile ad spend doubled in value last year, to account for roughly one in six of every pound spent on digital marketing, yet its true impact can rarely be fully understood through metrics designed around laptops and desktops.
Figures can vary, and they are estimates at best, but it is accepted wisdom that up to half of all advertising may never be seen because it is displayed below the ‘fold’ of the screen. So that leaves an understandable question mark against the CPM (cost per thousand) currency audiences are traded in.
Even if an advert is clicked on, click fraud emanating from ‘bots’ is sufficiently prevalent to make marketers seriously question whether it was a human who saw and responded to their advert. This throws in to some doubt the metrics of cost per click (CPC) and click-through rate (CTR) used to measure a campaign’s effectiveness.
So a feeling is growing among marketers that in the rush to be digital, some of the benefits of the old way of doing things may have been lost.
It is very early days but for marketers looking for the first signs that CPC and CTR do not have to be only language brands, agencies and networks speak, there was an interesting development at the end of July.
Twitter founder Biz Stone’s new blogging platform, Medium,announced that it had attracted its first advertising sponsor. The interesting part is that BMW is not paying to sponsor content about design, in a part of the site called Reform, on the basis of how many times its content is viewable or even viewed. Instead, the German car brand is paying for how long its core audience enjoys the content over the next six months. Instead of clicks, it is paying for audience reach measured in time.
Reach And Frequency
Bob Wooton, Director of Media and Advertising at ISBA, which represents the ‘voice of the British advertiser’, certainly believes that other large brand advertisers would be better served by more traditional metrics. He expects to see campaigns being increasingly measured by time, reach and frequency rather than clicks alone.
“Companies that are purely interested in direct response, particularly small ecommerce operators, are likely to be quite happy with metrics the way they are,” he says.
“The big brand advertisers, though, are not usually interested in direct response, because their brands are sold by retailers. They want to buy media and receive reports that fit in with how they operate in outdoor, print, television and radio.
“What they really need is an assurance their core target audience has been reached and how many times they were viewable to that audience, and that their brand name was only displayed on sites they are happy to be seen on.
“What they really want is the traditional measure of reach and frequency.”
Wooton says that the average large brand advertiser is unhappy with digital display, not just in the metrics used to buy it but also the standards being applied to create those metrics, such as IAB’s standard for viewability equating to half an advert’s pixels being viewable for a second, or two seconds for video.
The feedback he is getting from advertisers is that the standards bar is set low and there is far too much click fraud and murky trading which can see brands paying for robotic ‘eyeballs’ or having their name seen against unsuitable content. The metrics issues is just one part of a larger question mark the ‘old fossils’ are starting to raise.
“If you’d questioned digital and how it was done over the past couple of years, you’d be considered a bit of an old dinosaur as a brand marketer,” he quips. “We’re finding now, though, that some of us old dinosaurs are starting to be listened to more because at least in traditional media you know what you bought, you can do a traditional calculation of what percentage of your audience has seen the media and how often during your campaign they were exposed to your messaging.
“It may not sound as exact as click-throughs but then a lot of advertisers are starting to seriously doubt those metrics anyway.”
At one of those big brand clients Wooton refers to, Telefonica’s Global Head of Planning and Insights Charlie Hunter-Schyff, could not agree more. Not only does he believe that CPM and CPC are not well-suited to brand marketer requirements, there is a more glaring reason why they need to be replaced.
Mobile ad spend doubled in value last year, to account for roughly one in six of every pound spent on digital marketing, yet its true impact can rarely be fully understood through metrics designed around laptops and desktops.
“Digital display metrics are just no good for mobile, they really need to be replaced,” he insists. “Mobile is such a part of everyone’s daily life now but because it’s a small screen and people often don’t complete a transaction on it, it can be overlooked by display metrics and results can be skewed by accidental clicks. Yet, at the same time, it’s the best channel to reach people by both audience type and location.
“The irony is, mobile is perfectly suited to the old school approach of surveys. You can not only report on the reach and frequency of a campaign you can back it up through asking people if they saw an advert, what they thought of it, how it’s impacted their perception of a brand. You don’t even need to get them and a control group in a room, like before, you can just do it via text message.”
The same point could also be made for video. As the trend for brands to take television budget and apply it to more targeted online video campaigns, the likelihood is that the offline video metrics of time, reach and frequency will become more important online for both broadcasters and brands.
At the moment, Biz Stone’s time-based deal with BMW stands out for ignoring clicks and focussing on duration.
If those questioning the credibility and the usefulness of click-based metrics are proven right, though, it is unlike to remain a stand-out example for too long.