Doubling Up With Digital Display -- What The Data Tells Us

It's a question we've probably all been asking. Does digital display advertising pay? Is it worth the huge sums the big brands put into it? Well, the answer from a new piece of research released today would suggest it is.

I have to be honest -- I've begun to wonder whether the return on display outweighed the investment and risk. There's brand safety to factor in with viewability as well as fraud. The news on digital display has been pretty dismal recently, but this new research from Nielsen, Nectar, Sainsbury's and the IAB UK, as well as additional brand partners, would suggest there is a positive impact underpinning huge investments in digital display.

The researchers looked at the effectiveness of nine large brands, including Nestlé, Persil, PG tips and Surf. Interestingly, they picked reputable publishers in Mail Online, The Guardian, Yahoo, eBay, AutoTrade and Gumtree. So we have an investigation into top brands' performance on the country's top publishers. 

The result is a return of GBP1.94 for GBP1 put in -- in other words, for every pound spent, the brands received very nearly two pounds in sales. In fact, one unnamed brand in the study saw an uplift of GBP3.38 to every GBP1 invested.

This sounds like pie-in-the-sky stuff based on interviews with shoppers to add to the traditional recall and awareness metrics that brands periodically measure. However, the researchers here used data about consumers who saw the ads that was gleaned through the Nectar loyalty scheme and Nielsen. This allowed them to look for real shopping behaviour and see uplifts in sales.

So it's an interesting question to pose and a standout figure to come up with. Big brands spending big on the reputable sites get twice as much out of digital advertising as they put in.

I do still wonder what would have happened if this research featured less reputable publications, particularly if they had been bought indirectly through networks. 

Nevertheless, these are impressive figures for digital display, and there can't be a digital marketing channel that needed some good news more than the much maligned online display. 

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