We need to rethink how we measure success online
We invented a ridiculous thing called a CTR, then social has its own metrics, video is scaling with any number of acronyms such as VTR and CPE, then there’s debate around what constitutes an ‘E’? Either way, it’s messy – and it gives advertisers very little common currency by which to compare the relative effectiveness of their advertising across different channels.
If we think about how we’ve attributed success online historically, it was essentially a question of ‘did showing someone an ad on their computer pay off’? This might have been on a post click basis, where we assume people respond instantly to a commercial message, or it may have been on a post Impression basis depending on the purchase cycle of the product in question.
Either way, the commonality of the process was that we placed an ad on a single device, and we monitored that device to see if someone responded to our ad on the device that they originally saw the ad on. There are two big problems with this as we look at internet-connected advertising today.
Firstly, advertising is about influencing people, not devices. Secondly, those people have way more devices than they used to have, and those devices don’t necessarily chat to each other.
This means that the historical device-based method of measuring success is no longer fit for purpose, given that on average we now have more than one internet-connected device.
This means there’s every chance that you will respond to an ad on a different device to the device you saw the ad on (or indeed, go to the shops), meaning ‘success’, or certainly attributed success, is being lost in the food chain.
With this in mind it means we fundamentally need to reappraise how we go about joining the device ecosystem together, in order to be able to present a true picture of the effectiveness of ‘online’ as a medium – and we need to do that in a way that will enable advertisers to contextualise that success relative to the rest of the plan, and that will let them understand how people are reacting, not devices.
For me, the only way we’re going to make progress there is by getting back to the simplicity of measurement inherent in ‘traditional’ media, and using that recognised currency to restate and reinforce the case for compelling, effective advertising online.
Martin Galvin is director of agency sales at Specific Media.