In today’s programmatic era, the advertising industry has invested in endless amounts of technology to create, distribute and measure ads. As a result, the conversation has shifted away from performance.
Industry headlines and conversations are being commandeered by inputs such as viewability and completion rates. These are important pieces of the equation, but why aren’t we talking about what matters most? At the end of the day, advertisers want to see results, which means moving the needle on ROI.
How much toothpaste are we selling? How many more people came to the restaurant? Are we selling more shoes at one department store than another?
These are the questions our technology should be answering.Take TV for example – television ads still reign as the format with the most spend, yet that industry isn’t nearly as inundated by conversations on whether viewers get up and leave the room, mute the commercial, or flip channels.
TV continues to see investments because of the output – sales, brand lift, etc. This is what the online ad tech industry should be focused on, too. If we invest as much in figuring out how to measure online ads and its effect on sales as we do the inputs of these measurements, the digital ad landscape will advance immensely.
Inputs and Investment
Demographic testing, volume of a video ad, completion rates – these technology inputs are important, but it’s time we shift focus to what’s actually driving consumer action.
The most important piece of technology marketers should invest in are decisioning engines. For decades, brands and agencies have been using simple tools such as age and gender, reach and frequency and, most recently, viewability to optimize media delivery.
But for brands and agencies to get more out of their spend than just awareness, they need to invest in a results-driven decisioning engine.
Individual bidding decisions should be built to maximize results. In addition to building awareness, a decisioning engine should also be proving sales, ROI, Web site visits and foot traffic.
Marketers should invest in a decisioning engine that understands their campaign objectives, activates various types and sources of data, and learns what audiences, creative and media are driving the best results in order to apply that to current and future campaigns.
In today’s programmatic era, it is close to impossible for a human being to determine what exactly is driving results. Instead of looking at the metrics that drive sales, look at sales. The equation is becoming too difficult–there are endless models and algorithms we have at our disposal to get to the solution.
But it’s the solution that holds the most weight. Know the marketer’s objective, and deliver a campaign that achieves that–sometimes achievement does not involve getting a 70% to 80% viewability or high completion rates.
Adding technology to the mix—while vital—is another mean, not an end. Digital advertisers need to strike the right balance of tech (to measure results) and marketing intelligence (to set goals, reach individuals and drive results). It’s marketers who turn the dials on technology, after all.
As an industry, we are in danger of losing sight of what matters to our clients, the marketers. How does advertising impact consumer behavior? In a brand’s strategy and planning meetings, will the CEO be more interested in how long a consumer watched a 15 second spot, or how many people bought the product?
Let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees.