Roll Up Brands -- Waste Half Your Budget On The Wrong Audience, Then Halve It Again On Viewability

You waste half your budget in advertising, and the problem is that you don't know which half. It's a great saying because it actually sums up very neatly many issues with digital marketing. Thus, today we have the news that in display, nearly half of all ads miss their target audience.

The figures come from Nielsen's Digital Ad Ratings service and show that there is wide discrepancy in age groups. The most troublesome demographic is 25- to-44-year-olds who are only accurately reached 38% of the time, compared to 44% for 18- to-34-year-olds and 58% for 35- to-64-year-olds. The likelihood of reaching the desired demographic also varies greatly by sector. Travel marketers are in the lead here -- getting their man, or lady, two times out of three, with FMCGs and retail only managing a strike rate of 40% and 42%. 

There are a lot of figures available, but the final one that is worth mentioning is that mobile campaigns are slightly more accurate than desktop. That's a surprise to me because you would imagine that on such a personal device there will not be any confusion over multiple users, as you can experience with a computer. 

Nielsen jocularly sums up the research with the school report remark that although 100% targeting success is a pipe dream, the digital advertising industry "could do better." By the way, the average hit rate of 53% puts the UK ahead of France, but behind Germany and Italy. And a final interesting point -- that average only raises a couple of percentage points when campaigns are booked with publishers direct.

It got me to thinking, then. It's not exactly a pat on the back for the entire digital marketing sector, is it? At best you have a roughly 50-50 chance of reaching your audience. It's not a great thumbs up for the supply side either. Publishers have long claimed that their data makes dealing with them far better than third-party deals. The trouble is that it only just raises the chance to reach an intended target. Mobile marketers would likely claim that the channel identifies device owners better than desktop and so increases an ad's hit rate, but only just. 

To be honest, nobody comes out of this well. And here's the alarming part -- the research didn't factor in viewability. It simply measured ads that reached a device. Whether they were viewable is another question altogether. Given that viewability is another 50-50 factor to throw in, that could mean that just a quarter an advertiser's budget goes to ads that reach their intended audience. 

1 comment about "Roll Up Brands -- Waste Half Your Budget On The Wrong Audience, Then Halve It Again On Viewability".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 15, 2016 at 12:44 p.m.

    Sean, the smaller your "demographic target" the more likely you are to miss it. That's nothing new.----even in digital media. Nielsen keeps releasing these reports as a way to promote its digital rating service, but there's not that much to this story.

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