IAB Redefines Ad Engagement, Clarifies Core Metrics Cross-Platform

The Interactive Advertising Bureau will release a new definition for advertising engagement on Monday, as well as a list of core metrics around digital and legacy ads across platforms.

The move aims to clarify the meaning of "core" metrics to help marketers understand and measure interactive engagement. It creates a foundation as part of the Marketing Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative spearheaded by the ANA, 4As and IAB. The report, The Advertising Engagement Spectrum: Defining and Measuring Digital Ad Engagement in a Cross-Platform World, builds on concepts around engagement.

The working groups know that the advertising industry cannot possibly verify interactive metrics and return on investment without a common standard. "Engagement has been a particularly gnarly topic throughout the advertising industry probably for the past decade," Sherrill Mane, SVP of research, analytics, and measurement at the IAB, told Media Daily News. "Without understanding engagement you cannot understand metrics of interactivity in the context of building brands."



Mane knew everyone wanted a clear understanding of how digital advertising works, but she had little idea of the quantity of metrics people actually wade through and try to use daily.

The initiative defines the most important interactive elements and social media metrics required to build a brand and create a benchmark for performance. It also identifies 30 core interactive metrics, complete with broad definitions that were once on a list of thousands companies use.

The white paper outlines the 30 core metrics marketers should use as common definitions. The next step required the MRC to call together the working groups, which will standardize a list based on the ones most commonly used.

Ad viewability, standard GRP to work across digital and other media, like out-of-home, ad classification and taxonomy describing what ads do, and identifying the metrics behind engagement are all part of the move to make advertising more accountable.

The paper concludes digital advertising may not own engagement, but rather provide opportunities to build brands through engagement--cognitive, emotional and behavior.

16 comments about "IAB Redefines Ad Engagement, Clarifies Core Metrics Cross-Platform".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, February 10, 2014 at 9:43 a.m.

    Must be a slow day at the IAB.

  2. Sheldon Senzon from JMS Media, Inc., February 10, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.

    Mike, great comment and funny as well. Seems the business was a lot more fun before all the "buzz" words came into play. Every time I come across such beauties as "engagement, metrics, pain points, KPI's" and the like it's like a finger nail on the black board. Poor Erwin Ephron, he must be doing 360's from all this.

  3. Tim McMahon from McMahon Marketing LLC, February 10, 2014 at 2:28 p.m.

    I am no Einstein, so maybe you ought to explain the humor. I am a guy who appreciates measurement. So, maybe you can enlighten me because all I see in your comments are snarky, insider stuff and I don't need a measuring stick to understand to me its worthless patter.

  4. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, February 10, 2014 at 8:07 p.m.

    Hey Tim, your digital evangelism notwithstanding, please let me know how you can take seriously the notion that it only takes a core understanding of 30 metrics to define how to measure things! The fact that you don't find this funny is clearly the problem. But, you want snarky? How's this: The IAB sets the tone for an industry that defines success not by what works for advertisers, but rather by what can be sold to them. And there's certainly nothing funny about that.

  5. John Grono from GAP Research, February 10, 2014 at 8:17 p.m.

    I would have thought that Erwin would have said something along the lines of "Finally, after a decade or two we might get some meaningful metrics for communications planning - now all that is needed to get out Occam's Razor and pare it down to just half a dozen."

  6. Leslie Laredo from The Laredo Group, February 12, 2014 at 8:47 a.m.

    I wonder if any of the people who posted comments so far, actually read the study. The report provides a framework for the metrics currently used and they are broken down into 3 main buckets, emotional, cognitive and behavioral. The report also notes that some of the metrics are core or standard and some custom, addressing the issue of how many different attributes constitute “engagement” which is loosely defined, though a major “objective” for every media plan. The “cognitive” metrics are largely ones the industry has been using to measure branding, such as aided/unaided recall, message association and purchase intent, derived from ad effectiveness and brand lift surveys. “Emotional” metrics are also mostly survey derived though one, physical response, is measured biometrically. The “Behavioral/Physical” metrics are measured through eye tracking and web + social analytics. Many of these metrics are already widely used. But the reason there are so many metrics, is the availability of data, (many of these are real-time) to actually be able to measure what has eluded other media. Add to this, that digital metrics are supposed to align with objectives, so cognitive and emotional metrics align with branding campaigns and behavioral with direct response. I don’t know why others think this is a bad thing, just about buzz, or that having 30 metrics is a bad thing. And the reality is that whoever creates, executes and analyses ad campaigns should use this framework to PICK the right metrics. I think this is much better than seeing “CTR” as the metric for branding and ill-defined “engagement” or “CPE” metrics in RFPs. This framework creates standards that align metrics to objectives, and it is clearly needed in a world with an increasingly complex journey to purchase. Don’t blame the IAB for attempting to add structure to world where ad products, platforms, and interactive ad functionality changes daily. Finally, these metrics will work for BOTH advertisers and media suppliers.

  7. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, February 12, 2014 at 10:07 a.m.

    @ Leslie: The reason there are so many metrics (and growing) is because none of them -- besides the clickthrough -- are purely accountable. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story when we have so many eyeballs to track and so many buckets to fill?

  8. Leslie Laredo from The Laredo Group, February 12, 2014 at 10:19 a.m.

    Wowa...the click-through is NOT accountable! Clicks are "an impulse reaction to creative" (Laredo Group's definition) and clicks don't convert, many clicks are false/bot driven, per comScore 84% of Internet users don't click (old data, but still referenced) and I can quote studies (Quantcast, NYU Stern School/Distillery) that statistically show CTRs don't predict conversions and are as good as random guessing in their ability to predict purchase...so sorry I don't agree at all with your statement. While all metrics do have some amount of "bias" due to cookie deletion, gaps in capturing data along the purchase journey, making correct attribution, it doesn't mean we that should not align the existing and new metrics to objectives and more importantly, have a framework for doing this. As a side note (and a plug for Laredo Group), we train thousands of media buyers and sellers every year and I know first hand that this will not only help the buying and selling worlds be more productive but if adapted, will yield better results for their clients.

  9. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, February 12, 2014 at 1:01 p.m.

    Leslie, your shameless self-promotion and hyper-babble aside, the click-through is the only metric that represents an actual, measurable response to an impression. Conversion is another story, but simple logic dictates that no conversion can take place without first having something to convert...like a click-through!

  10. Leslie Laredo from The Laredo Group, February 12, 2014 at 1:38 p.m.

    Sorry you thought it was shameless...but I mention my experience because it is part of my perspective on the importance of the topic. There are many post-impression conversion tracking metrics (e.g., view-throughs) that don't need click-throughs. If you would like, we can move this off this thread so we can address each other's perspective in a different venue.

  11. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, February 12, 2014 at 3:14 p.m.

    Leslie, thanks for the invite, but I'll let the respective weights and tones of the comments here speak for themselves. But in all seriousness, the challenge isn't to chase our own growing long tails into ever smaller circles. It's about ad revenue, period. And the big money is not in targeting and conversions. The big money is on TV. Despite being a fragmented shadow of its former self, it's still the safe and easy to buy reach devil we know, and brand reach is the only non-discretionary line item in most big-brand media spends. Been that way forever, and with initiatives like the one described here from IAB clogging the pipes, it won't change any time soon.

  12. Tim McMahon from McMahon Marketing LLC, February 13, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

    I am an educator and genuinely interested in insight into the measures that make this developing phenomenon work in the marketplace.

    I spent 30 years in the business--as a seller and a buyer--so I understand it takes engaged practitioners (e.g. Leslie and Mike) to quarrel a bit to bring out the real meat of the issue. (I do disdain snarky however, no matter who spews it, it just devolves the discuss to the personal!)

    That said, I find this brief exchange helpful. We need measures and metrics and in some manageable form (not too much not too little just right) to inform decisions. The IAB has created a good report, I think. Interested in others' perspectives.

    Teaching students (young and old) rests on organizing the inquiry of people with different perspectives.

    Thanks to all, you are welcome in my classroom anytime.

  13. Leslie Laredo from The Laredo Group, February 13, 2014 at 12:39 p.m.

    If I agreed with you, then we would both be wrong :-) According to eMarketer TV ad spend in U.S. will grow from $68 billion in 2014 to $75 billion in 2017 (10% increase) versus digital ad spend growing from $47 to $61 billion (30% increase)...so digital and TV ad spend are getting closer to being on par. The majority of the ad spend increases are coming from branding ad campaigns, including branding formats such as video, native and rich media (and search is seeing major declines 48% of digital spend in 2012 down to 43% in 2013, IAB's numbers). Most of the VC investments in our industry are technologies that use data for more targeting and for tracking attribution and conversions. We are hearing that 50% +/- 10% of ad spend will be through agency trading desks...all of this programmatic media is targeted. So, yes big money is in TV but that balance is shifting quickly to digital.

  14. John Grono from GAP Research, February 13, 2014 at 3:22 p.m.

    Leslie, I don't have access to the detail of the eMarketer report, but the situation may be similar to Australia. 'Digital' spend (and they really mean 'online' or 'interactive') exceeded TV for the first time last year. But when you break it down, over half of that 'digital' spend is search and classifieds which in our historical trend data was excluded from the definition of 'ad spend'. That is, the classifieds at the back of the newspaper were not included as advertising as they were 'listings' whereas the display ads at the front of the newspaper were. On TV the 'advertorial' programmes were not considered as adspend, but the TVCs were. So, there could be an element of re-definition (rightly or wrongly) but one has to be careful when looking at trend and growth data during periods of rapid change to ensure like-for-like comparisons are made.

  15. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, February 14, 2014 at 9:48 a.m.

    John brings up a good point, but we've strayed from the purpose of the article, which is about measuring ad engagement. I think it's a fool's errand. But why take my word for it, when Facebook states my case for "worthless" so much more eloquently by pricing "engaging" ad impressions at only ten cents per thousand. As one who believes that we get what we pay for in this world, I wonder how much engagement I should reasonably expect for my dime?

  16. DG T from Viewthrough Measurement Consortium, February 17, 2014 at 6:09 p.m.

    Clicks are an overly used relic of one-dimensional DR oriented performance measurement. The IAB should be applauded for including display viewthrough as a "core metric" - better late than never.

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