Digital marketing is considered to be the most measurable medium. We present this Three part series on Measurement in digital marketing where the first part talks about the fragmentation and benchmarks, the second part covers the challenges and the final part will help in tackling the issues in measurement.
In our first part, we discussed about measurement in digital and how we face fragmentation due to the complex nature of our ecosystem and why benchmarks need to be set up. In our second part we try to list down the challenges that are faced in the digital ecosystem with respect to Measurement.
At the outset, we can broadly consider the following as the top challenges:
Metrics, Wrong KPIs, Fragmentation, Ad Fraud, Relevance, Click Farms, Fake Influencers, and many more. For some of these challenges, there are tools to evaluate and measure – which may be implemented but not used to its full potential. But in cases like setting KPIs, or subjective challenges, there is no tool available to check the same.
If we look at categorizing campaigns, we can broadly say that there are Branding or Performance campaigns. Metrics that are usually chased by brands, new on the medium are Impressions, Reach, Clicks, CTR, CPC or CPM maybe because it is a standard report format. But there are 100s of metrics that can be tracked, monitored and probably makes more sense for the brand for a campaign, which needs to be established and chased.
In terms of KPIs, the entire process has to start from the business objective, marketing, communication and finally media objective. Basis this, the role of digital needs to be established and then accordingly the digital media objectives to be arrived at. Each category has its own challenges and hence it is very essential to work on the consumer journey as well by figuring out the touchpoints & zero the moment of truth. The platforms need to be selected basis the journey and consumer’s content consumption patterns.
Fragmentation is a very important area that gets ignored. Due to the nature of this medium, there is flexibility in giving out certain scope of work to specialist agencies. Even if all the work gets done by the same agency, there are multiple platforms, tools and terms used that make matters complicated. Multiple Agencies, Multiple Tools, Multiple ways of communicating to the same audience and a similar audience getting exposed to communication from different platforms (and hence being counted as a different person via each platform) leading to duplication of reach, reduced RoI, spillover and wastages. And, thanks to these issues, the campaign reports show a different picture as against what has happened in reality.
BAV – Brand Safety, Ad Fraud and Viewability is a challenge overlooked until very recently. Last couple of years the awareness has increased, the tools that can monitor have been more accessible as well as comprehensive, and there are benchmarks too at a category, regional or national level to measure ourselves. Ad Fraud is a very big market, and it is estimated that advertisers have lost around $17 Billion in 2017 alone due to various forms of ad fraud.
The top types of Ad Fraud are in Search, Retargeting, Affiliates, Bad traffic, Install fraud, Lead fraud, etc. Sophisticated ways have cropped up in the recent past like Domain Spoofing, Pixel Stuffing, Ad stacking, Ad Injection, etc A 3rd party ad serving tool (with monitoring modules), ad fraud detection tools, ad blockers are some of the ways to prevent, but there is no 100% sure way to ensure perfect delivery. The best of inventory, websites, programmatic platforms or apps can fall prey to the sophisticated ad fraud, as hackers and what we call as “web mafia” are constantly trying to create opportunities for themselves for new ways of fraud.
Viewability is another issue that has been plaguing the digital universe. With Videos just 60% viewable and Display being at 50%, half of advertiser’s spends have never even got an opportunity to be seen by a human eye. Current crop of tools can identify the best sources of websites with higher Viewability, but it still takes some effort to blacklist and optimize the campaigns. With benchmarks getting updated, improvements in the guarantees, tools used as well as awareness, over the past year a lot of efforts in the ecosystem has seen Viewability improve. Some brands have started paying only for the viewable impressions, which has been accepted as a practise by agencies as well as vendors.
In video formats, the definitions for Viewability are not so stringent and hence, platforms can easily get away with in the current ecosystem. With shorter video formats, and changing consumer needs, there is a constant need to re-look at the definitions.
In-target advertising focuses on the planned targeting and the delivered inventory. They provide metrics about how the campaign reached online, the demographics, in some cases they even measure the same across TV, digital to give a comprehensive reach number across devices. In the current ecosystem, they tools can measure a certain % of the campaign only (can range between 20-60%), and from that they give the in-target audience number. Depending on category, age group, etc it is seen that 25-95% TG is reached online.
Viewability in digital – in USA, UK, Germany, France, Australia, etc ranges between 49-56%, according to latest reports across various sources.
Brand safety is a tricky subject because what’s safe for Brand A may not be a safe environment for Brand B. Hence, manual intervention, exhaustive setup, handpicking categories to target and placements are very essential for brands. It is reported that 66% of the users change their perception towards a brand when ads are seen in questionable environment.
The latest ad trend report from WARC states the following;
- 8% average fraud rate for non-optimised programmatic ads
- 11% risk adjacency with programmatic ads
- 13% of the Facebook accounts are useless for advertisers
- 20% of consumers would take action against a brand due to negative adjacency
- 23% of the viewable desktop ads are actually seen
- 46% of the ads are not viewable by MRC standards
- 55% rate of ‘tech-tax’ with programmatic chain
- 76% click fraud rate for programmatic half page desktop ads
3rd party tools are said to improve the efficiency by 27% on an average.
Apart from the Media side of measurement, there are two major areas too. Website and Influencer Marketing.
Measurement challenges for websites are plenty. Majorly because unless the business depends on a website, it is usually a checklist and not a priority. Using analytics there is so much of data and insights that brands can pull, but it is under-utilized. In general the basic metrics like time spent, bounce rate, sessions and traffic sources get checked. The click to visit ration from media, the demo/geo stats, intent, time of the day, relevance of the incoming traffic, organic and paid traffic performance, comparing against benchmarks, behaviour flow, top pages, etc there are hundreds of datapoints. Metrics to be chased by each brand, for their website (even for each campaign) should be relevant and can change.
Website setup & security – With the aggressive push towards digitisation and rapid adoption of the medium, brands are conveniently forgetting the need for a robust and secure system for their digital assets, especially websites. Websites here are not necessarily their corporate informative websites, but also include fully functional ecommerce web applications. So how can a neglected website security setup affect measurement?
Consider the following cases:
- Invalid traffic or bots – During a campaign, if the website is bombarded with invalid traffic or bots, it can have at least 2 significant implications. 1) The website’s load times and other performance may go down because of this invalid hits taking up the bandwidth. 2) Your measurement metrics will be rendered almost useless since these visits can skew the measurement data like visits, time spent, pages per session, bounce rate (or the most commonly viewed metrics) in their favour.
- Automated lead generation – Consider a case you are running a campaign to generate leads. With an insecure setup, one can easily dump leads with the help of a simple code. These leads are in no way submitted by humans. If this is not taken into account during your measurement, then again the numbers can be skewed by publishers/sources to favour them by easily dumping the leads.
Influencer Marketing – one of the fastest growing areas in digital marketing, where the spends can go as high as 8% of the entire marketing budget! Brands are investing with an eye on returns, using it as a reach medium or also as a means to build credibility. The three core components of influencer marketing are reach, authority and accessibility. They use this to build a positive word of mouth, to change their minds, to generate conversations and to engage using gratification. The challenges in getting the ROI for Influencer marketing can be true vs fake followers, affinity of the followers vs category of the influencer, influence category claimed by the person vs actual influence, the engagement on organic vs sponsored posts, the frequency of sponsored content, exclusivity of brands / categories partnered with, slangs used, and competitor mentions in a certain time period.
So, the question then is, are you able to measure the efficacy of digital?
Definitely yes! But is it a “one ring to rule them all” approach? Definitely not.
Measurement in digital marketing is a healthy and logical combination of multiple factors as detailed before. It not only requires logic through the various data points, but also a little bit of ‘gut feel’ approach. It is an evolving process and hence, a lot of trial and error too is needed. While the logical bit may seem fairly straight forward, the gut feel bit is tricky and usually requires someone who can understands the brand’s DNA as well as the digital eco-system.
We conclude the second part of the series with optimism, and a hope to someday see our digital ecosystem have answers to most of the challenges (if not all), in the near future.
To read part 1, click here.
To read part 3, click here.
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