Rethinking Advertising Metrics to Demonstrate Brand Value

The measurement of digital advertising has evolved at a much higher rate than standardised measurements. From using the cubit system as a measurement of distance around the third or fourth millennium BC, which was difficult as all individuals had slightly different lengths. To today, the US and UK operate in yards and miles, whereas much of the rest of the world adopts the metric system of kilometres.

However, when it comes to the measurement of digital, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that is usually associated with more traditional media such as TV or print press. Over the last few years a plethora of new metrics have emerged to accompany changes in how we value interactions with our ad formats: CPE, CPV, CPCV, vCPM the list goes on. However, marketers need to ask which metrics bring the greatest value to campaign measurement and buying especially when using video formats?

Originally marketers used the formalised trading metric, cost per impression (CPM) this enabled them to manage budgets by controlling how much they spend per impression delivered. However, they were unable to gain any insight into if the impression has been viewed. With average viewability of ads dropping to below 50% this created severe problems.

It is over three and a half years since the MRC released its ad impression measurement guidelines. Although many UK agencies seem to have settled on asking that 50-70% of a campaign is viewable, this remains a benchmark rather than a way in which we trade digital media. However, we are now seeing several brands, via their agencies, briefing that they only want to buy on a viewable CPM (vCPM) or cost per engagement (CPE). This is a seismic shift for our industry and whilst it puts pressure on vendors to deliver quality, most brands and agencies are prepared to pay.

Brands could ensure that 100% of their ads were in view by trading on i.e. only paying for a vCPM. From this, users had the opportunity for their message to be read and understood. With many brands developing their own definition of viewability, everything from the MRC standard through to 100% of the ad for 3 seconds, they can dial up their expectations, and the cost, as they wish.

Eye-tracking research, by Lumen, shows that even if an ad is viewable there is no guarantee that people are looking at it. With only 4% of display ads getting more than one second of attention, by purchasing ads that have previously been engaged with (CPE), the benefits are plentiful. A lower number of engaged users is clearly more beneficial than a higher number of passive, uninterested users, or users who may have seen the ad, but had no interest in it due to a lack of relevance.

CPE overcomes both challenges. For a user to engage with the ad, it has to be viewable and if it is engaged with, then the user has given the ad active attention. This is key for advertisers, as we know from our time at school, if you were sat in a lesson letting it wash over you, you learned very little. But those that interact (or engage) memorise and learn much more.

Consequently, there is a great opportunity for ad tech vendors. Full stack buying technologies and strong creative executions, can be allied with a willingness to take on the risk in buying, and sell only viewable and engaged impressions. Both sides of the market will win in this scenario and long term, marketers will deliver a better user experience for the consumer.