If Brand Spend is Coming to Programmatic, We’re Going to Need New Engagement Metrics

by • October 15, 2015 • Comments (0)


If brand-side marketers are to place their faith in programmatic media spending, then a fundamental shift is required in how the industry optimizes its campaign management, plus the metrics employed to measure engagement, according to panelists at the upcoming MLA Sessions hosted in New York City next week.

The points will be discussed on a panel dubbed ‘The search for the perfect impression’ where John Snyder, Grapeshot CEO, and Jonah Goodart, Moat, CEO, will use the half-hour session to emphasize the need to demonstrate value to marketers spending their money with automated advertising providers.

Automated – or programmatic – advertising technologies are arguably the hot topic in all industry discussion, with research firms estimating that nearly two-thirds of all digital ad space bought by CPGs to be spent using such technologies this year alone, reaching $5bn in total. The research firm further forecasts this will rise to over $8bn by 2019.

However, if this rapid growth trajectory is to be realized, then this (very technical) sector of the industry needs to cast off some of the metrics of the past, a legacy born of the fact that such technologies were originally used to monetize otherwise unwanted digital advertising inventory.

The emergence of such technologies, and the fact that online advertising technologies were originally used to conduct performance campaigns on low-cost media, meant that ‘clicks’ became the default metric for assessing the success of a campaign.

This emphasis on such performance-led metrics, also gave rise to dubious media tactics such as arbitrage – often at a ridiculous mark-up – with agency trading desks in particular coming under fire for ‘buying low’ and then selling high to clients.

However, as improved data targeting methods become more commonly available media owners are starting to ask for a higher premium in return for the insights enabled using such technologies.

“As advertisers start to pay more [for media], they’ll be demanding better measurement, according Moat’s Chris Morgan.

GrapeShot’s Snyder adds: “If brand spend is coming to programmatic, we’re going to need new engagement metrics.”

Morgan further recounts how marketers are looking to develop more complex engagement metrics as it helps them ensure ‘economic safety’, similar to how sophistication in the development of content verification tools helps them better ensure brand safety.

This quest has become all the more urgent given the rise of external parties such as ad blockers, according to GrapeShot’s Snyder, who maintains that the emergence of ad blockers is a “clarion call” for those eager to improve online advertising.

“The conversion-orientated approach needs to be evolved to one where there is more of a premium placed on [user] engagement,” he says. “The rise of things such as [Apple’s] iOS9 has, and its ability to enable ad blocking, prompted the need for this. We need to shift to a mindset where it’s not about getting the most clicks possible for a campaign.”

This over-emphasis on data and efficiency has also led to a negative effect on the resources spent on advertising creative, with both Goodhart and Snyder claiming this is feeding ‘banner blindness’ among ¬†‘millennials’ (i.e. audiences that are largely ‘digital first audiences’, and increasingly disillusioned with ads following them around the internet).

In particular, the industry needs to place a premium on engagement, and the metrics that quantify quality, as such audiences increasingly begin to consume video on mobile devices, according to Snyder.

Those sitting in on this session will learn on how best to advance these discussions with their partners in the ad tech space, plus how to better understand whether or not their media spend is delivering actual engagement with consumers, as opposed to a set spreadsheets that only look good on paper.


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