Five Key Lessons Learned: Your Cheat Sheet to Digital Advertising

Digital advertising continues to grow across Asia and the globe, developing both as an important channel for campaigns and in overall sophistication. But with so much information out there, it is often difficult for marketers and advertisers to cut through the clutter and discern what are the tried and true lessons important to maximise results and drive ad spend.

Through our company’s extensive research in the digital advertising space and experience working with agencies and brands, we’ve identified five key lessons learned, which help to shed light on the current state of the industry and guide marketers down a path toward more effective planning, stronger evaluation, and overall improved results. These lessons are important for veterans and new professionals alike, so take a read and pass it on. In this fast pace industry, it always helps to have a cheat sheet.

1. Clicks are at best an incomplete metric and at worst a misleading one

Time and time again, our research has found that clicks are not an appropriate metric to measure the success of online advertising. So few people actually click on ads and this small percentage is declining across all markets. For instance, in March 2009, only 16 percent of U.S. Internet users clicked on an ad, according to our research with Starcom USA. That’s a 50 percent decrease compared to July 2007. These same trends have been seen throughout the globe, with 2009 data from DoubleClick revealing click-through rates at just 0.19 percent for Singapore. This trend makes complete sense if you consider that there is more content being created all the time, more people are coming online, more pages being consume, and hence more ad inventory available. Also, clicks do not reveal information on brand building and they don’t measure all of a campaign’s sales impact nor the cumulative (latent) impact of ads – all of which are extremely important for brands looking to understand their true ROI.

2. Cookie deletion has the potential to create havoc in media planning, execution, and campaign evaluation

Earlier this month, I wrote a post on why cookie deletion should matter for advertisers and publishers for ClickZ that takes a more in-depth look on cookie deletion across markets and what it means for accurate measurement (check out the full post here). For the quickest understanding of cookie deletion, check out the graphic below. Due to cookie deletion this one person is counted by a site as threedistinct cookies, causing severe unique visitor overstatement that can wreak havoc on media planning and evaluation.

3. Digital campaigns have the ability to build brands and lift e-commerce and offline retail sales, and as in traditional TV advertising, creative plays a critical role

Exposure to display ads doesn’t just impact online sales – it lifts in-store sales as well and offers an efficient means of brand building. In a comScore-dunnhumby study in the U.S., 82 percent of campaigns showed a positive in-store sales lift for those exposed to online display advertising, with average $ lift of 22 percent.

Source: comScore-dunnhumby CPG Offline Sales Lift Studies, 2008-2009 *Advertising's impact on retail sales is measured by linking the comScore panel of 1 million U.S. Internet users to their retailer loyalty card data from dunnhumby, which provides a measure of the panelists' in-store buying activity.

With digital’s over-reliance on clicks and focus on immediate ROI, we often forget, or at least subordinate, the fact that the Internet allows for richer, more interactive creative than any traditional media can offer.

4. The ability of content to engage consumers can amplify the effect of an ad placed within the content

Placing an ad within highly engaging content can help to maximise the ad’s impact.

What is engagement?

  • Level of focus and attention
  • Loss of self-consciousness
  • Altered sense of time
  • Intrinsic rewards
  • Immersion

A comScore ARS study involving online video found that consumers who were highly engaged with the video content generated a stronger ARS Consumer Choice Score for the ad placed within the content than unengaged viewers. This higher score is correlated with in-market sales lifts, demonstrating the ability of content to amplify an ad’s impact.

5. When selecting from a variety of media-placement strategies, it is important to consider the relative costs and benefits of each

There are many placement options that media planners must consider when determining their buys. It is important to select a media-placement strategy that best fits the specific campaign objective.

Here is a rundown of the options that media planners are presented with:

Audience targeting: Targets consumers based on past interest or interaction with related products/content but who have not yet visited the advertiser’s site

Contextual targeting: Targets sites with related, page-level content

Efficiency pricing: Based on cost-per-click engagement with creative

Premium pricing: Based on high-visibility placements on premium publishers

Retargeting: Based on data that confirms users have previously visited an advertiser’s site

Run-of-network (RON): Includes ads that appear anywhere in the network, often optimised by conversion

When considering a media-placement strategy, the best option often differs based on long-term versus short-term goals. For example, some placements – like efficiency, pricing, and RON – optimise quickly to deliver traffic to a site (i.e., drive traffic within the first week), but they don’t always sustain these audiences over time (i.e., traffic drops off after the first week). When it comes to longer-term effects, audience, contextual, and premium strategies have been shown to work well, although retargeting outperforms these three.

The Internet is still growing at such a fast pace here in Asia – both in terms of audience and in terms of marketplace opportunities. We are often running at light-speed while doing 20 things at the same time. Resources and skilled talent are always never enough. I hope this cheat sheet will help you focus your efforts and that of your team. This pace that we are running will not abate any time soon: remember, we are still only scratching the surface of the ad expenditure that will come to digital!

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