Defining Digital Ad Performance
3 best practices that can't be ignored.
I recently had the pleasure of sharing a panel with some of the sharpest minds in the digital advertising space. We gathered at this year's Advertising Week to discuss performance–how we define it as tools change and our industry shifts. Most importantly, how do we achieve it as an industry?
These may seem like straightforward questions with obvious answers, but we're often dealing with different stakeholders, varying metrics, and disparate data utilization methods. Our panel, titled "Performance Is The New Black" actually concluded that there is no uniform definition of success. There are, however, best practices that publishers, agencies and marketers should follow in order to describe the performance of a given campaign or specific ad.
Focus on objectives first, tactics later
The very first thing publishers, agencies and marketers need to do is come to a consensus on the objective of a given campaign. The second thing to keep in mind, as reinforced by Amanda McAllister, Head of Global Marketing for MSN, is to never lose sight of the objective. Once all stakeholders are clear on what hill they are trying to take, then they can figure out how to take that hill.
Flashy tactics are great, but they're not an end in themselves. Launching an app for the sake of having one or because Starbucks or Macy's did it does not offer that focus. Any campaign needs an agreed-upon set of key performance indicators, and shiny tools and technologies like apps, programmatic buys and native content should be assessed based on their contribution to achievement of those KPIs.
Don't be afraid to experiment
Some went so far as to say we should invest in failure. The beauty of digital advertising is its flexibility. We shouldn't be afraid to embrace (smart) experimental ideas as part of a new campaign as long as vigilant oversight and a solid Plan B are part of the strategy. As Jade Watts of MediaHub put it, "It's ok to fail as long as you fail fast and course-correct even faster."
Tried-and-true tactics are great, but if you never have a hiccup, you're probably not doing everything you can to push boundaries and achieve the greatest success. And by not at least taking educated forays into burgeoning fields such as programmatic – which is set to account for $20 billion in ad spends annually by 2016–you're not only limiting possibilities for success, but risk being left behind as the industry changes.
Keep the consumer in your sights
Dazzling CPMs and CPAs are great, but we shouldn't lose sight of our collective goal, which is winning over the end-user. If publishers and advertisers aren't framing advertising content in a way that is appealing and relevant to the consumer, we won't ultimately succeed. This is why we're seeing more in the industry turn to native advertising-if done right, it's ultimately oriented for the end-user but will also deliver the performance the marketer is seeking. Successful publishers, agencies, and brands are going beyond the conventions of digital advertising to deliver conversions while at the same time offering memorable creative content.