Marketing Nirvana: Hold Advertisers To More Accountability

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, August 17, 2015
With every new campaign, advertisers and their agencies seek brand-marketing nirvana—advertisers fund a campaign, brand favorability rises, sales go up and the process repeats ad infinitum.

In this ideal, albeit simplified model of advertising, the process is predictable, happens automatically in real time, and is fully transparent.

An advertising ecosystem that is predictable, fully automated and fully transparent sounds great in principle but most marketers are finding today’s landscape challenging to navigate.

Take mobile for example—the IAB recently found that more than three fourths (76%) of brand marketers saw programmatic buying as an important development in mobile advertising, but only 27% of marketers are buying mobile inventory programmatically. It’s clear that advertisers are still figuring out how to achieve marketing nirvana, but it’s more within reach than most think.

Take Gross Rating Points (GRPs)—one of the most common metrics in advertising. If this measure is a proxy for advertising impact, the next step is for advertisers to figure out how they can get closer to measuring actual ad effectiveness and ensuring that they’re automatically optimizing toward the places, people and moments that are driving it.



To be clear, the GRP has played and will continue to play a critical role in how big brand advertisers provide, buy and measure reach among a demographically defined segment of the population. It may measure demographic reach, but it’s a woefully inaccurate measurement of the effect of the advertising on real people.

But fear not! After laying down a foundation of reach with guaranteed GRPs, advertisers now have very powerful tools for holding advertising to a higher accountability and to set a higher bar for delivering what really matters: ad effectiveness.

Digital advertising, powered by ad serving technology that makes intelligent decisions in milliseconds, is going well beyond demographics to leverage targeting and affinity correlations and help assure that paid media works and every marketing dollar counts.

Today’s cutting-edge digital advertising platforms have evolved to include direct-measurement capabilities and a full range of brand-performance metrics to gauge brand favorability in real time.

We all deserve something to complement demographic-based metrics and shame on any marketer that isn’t jumping at the chance to hold advertising to greater accountability.


But performance metrics are just a part of a marketer’s arsenal. Powerful new technology can optimize campaigns continuously. In digital, every ad call comes with a variety of signals, such as geography, time of day, cookies, content category and so on.

Through optimization technology, each of these bits of data automatically informs campaign choices with real-time results, prompting continuous and immediate improvements to help achieve brand-performance goals -- the real thing, not blunt substitutes.

Optimization also improves real-time-bidding (RTB), with algorithms that automatically bid on your behalf to achieve the right balance between reach, efficiency and performance metrics. Here, dynamic bidding not only automatically serves the most appropriate ads to the most appropriate targets, but also automatically optimizes bid amounts in favor of top-performing channels and ads.

Bidders that don’t start with a proven performance optimization engine should give buyers pause.

As if all this weren’t enough, today’s predictive capabilities allow powerful forecasting of how various ads, channels and targeting will perform. It’s almost as if “real time” isn’t enough by itself any more. The future is becoming ever more important, and digital technology is allowing us to see it more and more clearly.

Digital metrics and continuous campaign optimization are steps forward in creating stronger proxies that complement demographic reach sizing. If the gross rating point and a demographics-based campaign suit the marketer’s goal best, that’s fine.

But today, we’re in a really exciting time where we can use a variety of more precise measures that define success with ever-greater exactitude. We may not quite have reached marketing nirvana, but we sure are knocking at the door.

3 comments about "Marketing Nirvana: Hold Advertisers To More Accountability".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 17, 2015 at 8:53 a.m.

    Steven, no advertiser that I have ever dealt with thinks that GRPs are a proxy for ad effectiveness. GRPs and the attendent reach and fequency estimates are merely a way to quantify your opportunity to reach people with an ad campaign and how often this might take place.

    Regarding accountability, I agree with you, however what's also needed are much better tools, including human measurements, to guide advertisers in evaluating the effectiveness of their campaigns. In the digital area, one might think that there would be more pre-testing of ad campaigns---as is common in TV-----but I wonder how often this is the case.

  2. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, August 17, 2015 at 9:26 a.m.

    ED, excellent points as usual. Pre-testing campaign creative should be a "law" across all platforms.  To Steven's point about continual optimization...excellent!  The market place is
    dynamic, not static. IF some of the new measures under development prove reliable and predictive, we are indeed heading for a much more effective brave new world.  Jim 

  3. Robert Barrows from R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations, August 17, 2015 at 2:35 p.m.

    The best way to measure the effectiveness of any kind of advertising is with some advertising math called “The Barrows Popularity Factor.” It shows you how you can actually QUANTIFY the relationship between your advertising and sales and it can help your company make a lot more money. Plus, the math is extremely easy to use and all of the calculations can be done by one person, in moments, with just a simple calculator. You can read all about it in a booklet called “The Barrows Popularity Factor.”


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