Digital is a world littered with metrics – clicks, impressions, CPC, CTR – so why do so many advertisers still ask 'how do I measure the effectiveness of my digital campaign?'
One of the biggest hurdles is that there is often confusion or disagreement over what success looks like… most campaigns simply don't set out with a clear campaign objective.
Are you after quick conversions or brand building that drives long term sales? These different strategies will have very different success measures and should be clearly outlined and understood by all stakeholders before taking a campaign forward.
Once you have a clearly outlined objective, the next hurdle is to ensure you have the right measurement in place to determine your success.
More specifically, ads aimed at impacting direct sales should lead with metrics that we know have business impact -- number of website visitations, downloads of a service or app, member registration, online sales. Conversely, the success of brand building ads should be based on how well they increased awareness, changed attitudes or motivated people to consider the brand in the future.
Kantar Millward Brown's ABC'S approach below is a simple framework for digital measurement that is independent from the media owners and buyers and one that can help you select the right metrics to more accurately measure digital's effectiveness. It evaluates Audience, Brand, Consumer Behaviour and Sales. Here are the basic principles:
When measuring a campaign, an obvious place to start is audience and how many of your target base you reached and how many times you reached them. This sounds relatively easy, but did you know that in 2015 an estimated $6.3B in advertising dollars globally was spent on non-human traffic? With bots and cookies manipulating data, it's vital to be able to sift through the noise and ensure you're reaching actual humans.
Second, it is equally important that these people actually saw your ad. Digital ad viewability varies significantly by publisher and ad format. Marketers can look to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's viewability standards to ensure you're meeting the minimum standard and from there, consider what broader measurement criteria will suit.
Finally, were the people you did reach the right ones. A key measure of campaign effectiveness is to determine if the people we targeted were actually the people we reached. Lately, I've been seeing digital ads for GoPro cameras – I'm not in the market for one, but my kids certainly are and have been researching them online.
There are two elements of brand to consider: Brand Safety and Brand Effects. Brand Safety relates to managing the environment your ads appear in to maintain the integrity of your brand, and Brand Effect is how you intend an ad to impact your brand which should be clearly outlined in your campaign objective.
For these, many use proxies such as engagement or time spent viewing which do not measure Brand meaningfully. A better way is to use short surveys while the campaigns are running that compare the attitudes of those exposed to the campaign against similar types of people not exposed to the ad. Results are reported in real time dashboards exploring the impact of site, ad format, frequency and creative with comparisons to norms for context. Another resource is the Interactive Advertising Bureau's brand safety metrics that provides guidance on how to protect your brand from unsafe, inappropriate or incompatible content.
So how did your campaign influence online behaviours? Many campaigns set out to incite a certain behaviour from consumers. For example: book a test drive, visit a web site, enter a competition. Measuring these outcomes is critical. Make sure you gain an understanding of whether the campaign caused the action or not – just because someone saw your ad and experienced the desired behaviour does not mean the ad exposures caused this.
This is the end goal of most campaigns and the most difficult to measure with any reliability. Can you really be sure consumers made a purchase as a result of the campaign?
Most approaches here only look at the short-term sales outcome or a direct response. But what about the sales impact over a longer term? This is particularly relevant where brand building is a key objective – such as longer purchase cycle categories FMCG, travel, auto, etc. Understanding your campaign's contribution to sales over both the short and long term gives a more complete evaluation of ROI.
Get to Know the ABC'S
As you consider your campaign, bear in mind while you can measure everything, it doesn't mean that you should. Depending on your objective, you may look at A+B only or B+S only or all four based on your brand and business goals.
Decades old research practices combined with the latest digital technology means that we are capable of measuring all elements of a campaign, so there is no reason we can't all begin to use the ABC'S framework today to start a new era of digital measurement. And, if you are unsure of what all the digital measurement jargon means, check out the Ad Effectiveness - Glossary of Terms just released by the IAB Ad Effectiveness Council.
Mark Henning is the Executive Director of Media & Digital at Kantar Millward Brown based in Sydney.