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Getting Value from Your Digital Advertising

By Alexandra DeLory |

Do these questions sound familiar?

"Should I be putting money into digital media?", "How can my business connect with human beings through digital channels?", "Who does this actually hit?", and "What is the quality of delivery?"

More than ever before, digital remains an exciting and evolving medium. It is an essential advertising tool for any business – big or small. The critical question is how can the effectiveness of digital advertising be maximized?

At first it may appear to be easier to measure the results of a digital media campaign when compared to traditional advertising, because of the ability to track things like ad views and click-through rates.

Research presented by comScore Media Metrix Canada president Brent Bernie at the Dx3 Canada digital advertising and marketing tradeshow in January shows that this belief may be falsely placed.

comScore finds discrepancy between measured and actual interactions online

During the comScore session Bernie shared a story.

Recently, the international cruise company, Holland America, had an advertisement running beside a news article about the Costa Concordia tragedy. This pairing was not exactly complimentary content for the world leader in cruising.

From their U.S.-based Charter Study, involving 12 national premium brands, 3,000 placements, 381,000 site domains and 1.7 billion ad impressions, comScore found that, in many cases, ads are delivered but not in-view or on target and therefore never have a chance to make an impact. Or in Holland America’s case, the right impact.

The comScore research has revealed four factors that could cause advertisers to believe their ads are more effective than they actually are.

  1. Optimal on-the-page locations: the top of the page isn't necessarily the best.

    A common belief in online advertising is that having an ad "above the fold", usually at the top of the page, is best. Yet it might be better to consider whether the ad is "in-view"*, which occurs when the ad is seen for at least one second.

    The comScore research that found across all campaigns in its Charter study, only 69 per cent of the ad impressions were classified as being ‘in-view.’ The remaining 31 per cent were delivered but never seen by a consumer, a likely result of a consumer scrolling past the ad before it loaded or a consumer never scrolling the ad into view. In-view percentages varied by site and ranged from 7 percent to 91 percent.

  2. In the right geography

    Are your advertisements targeting the right geographical area? Don’t advertise on a community website in Vancouver if your business services pet owners in Halifax

    An average of four per cent of ad impressions were delivered outside the desired geography, but individual campaigns ran as high as 15 percent. In many cases, ads were served in markets where the advertised product is not sold, meaning wasted ad spend and sub-optimal effectiveness results.

  3. In a brand safe environment

    You will want to ensure that you don’t end up with uncomplimentary content running beside your ad such as in the Holland America case.

    Seventy two per cent of Charter Study campaigns had at least some ads running next to content deemed “not brand safe” by the advertiser, meaning that the content is deemed objectionable by the brand.

    This type of unsafe delivery has the potential to damage the brand, creating a difficult situation for all members of the digital advertising ecosystem.

  4. Absent of fraudulent delivery

    Make sure you are getting what you paid for. Quick rendering and correct placement should be monitored.

The need for verified measurements

How can digital advertisers ensure their ads are placed in the right place, before the right audience, in a safe environment that is fraud-free?The broadcast industry uses the Gross Rating Point (GRP) as a measurement that measures and verifies the size of an audience reached by a specific media vehicle or schedule.

Along the same vein, comScore recently introduced verified GRP (vGRP), a new measurement solution that validates ad delivery via a single, third-party source.

Their message is simple: For advertisers, publishers and agencies, the time to learn the true value of those millions of advertising dollars spent each year, is now.

Unlike existing single-point solutions, comScore vGRP provides an unduplicated accounting of impressions delivered across a variety of critical dimensions. The rating is a critical part of the company's "validated Campaign Essentials" (vCE), a product they launched in August 2011 that can be used by advertisers, ad agencies and publishers.

An important step in the evolution of online ads

If we don't stop looking at impressions and click through rates as the be all and end all, digital media will never meet its true value potential. "Ultimately, this type of third-party validation will help identify and appropriately price the proportion of online ad inventory that delivers value, improve buying and selling decisions, and instill more confidence and trust in the industry," said Dr. Magid Abraham, President and CEO of comScore.When it comes to digital advertising comScore highlighted that it is not the quantity of digital ads it’s the quality. Don’t waste your precious advertising dollars on invisible campaigns.

*In-view parameters are consistent with those that have been recommended by an industry consortium called the ‘Making Measurement Make Sense’ initiative, consisting of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of National Advertisers (4A’s) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB.) These parameters say that at least 50 percent of the advertisement must be viewable for at least 1 second in order to be considered in-view.

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