Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Advertising in 2021 is about brand metrics, not delivery metrics

By Mikael Larsson, Co-Founder, Brand Metrics

Marketers are fast becoming wise to the misunderstandings that have negatively impacted ad investments over the years, from the realisation that low rate inventory, do not always translate into quality exposures with real people, to the idea that chasing clicks is not the best way to realise business objectives, and that with the changes being brought in by the major tech giants, it is now harder to address a general audience across different domains and publishers. 

What advertisers are increasingly seeing instead is that how they invest must be adapted to the post-pandemic world we now live in. Consumers have been awakened to the importance of hard news and premium media environments, and the space in which brands will prosper is among these well-respected, value-adding publishers.

Today there is less focus among advertisers and agencies on getting ads out anywhere at the lowest possible cost, and instead a shift in focus onto buying ads at the right price, but in premium environments and at the highest possible quality. Advertisers are focused on creativity, the quality of context and the quality of the advertisement itself.

Which also means there is a focus on metrics that reflect creativity, and an increased demand for brand related data. That is, not just the delivery mechanisms and areas such as impressions and clicks, but the impact of the advertising and the creative element of the messaging.  

But what is crucial above all else is that advertisers gain a deeper understanding of where in the customer journey decisions are made for their particular brand. 

At Brand Metrics we help measure the impact of awareness, consideration, preference and action intent when it comes to advertising, and we know from this that the likelihood of a consumer spending money at various stages in their discovery journey are different for different product types. 

We recently did a deep dive into our own benchmark database to explore what kind of brands and industry sectors are over indexing in creating uplift around awareness and the cognitive space at the top of the funnel metrics to see what they all had in common. We then did the same for that middle funnel overachievers – the brands creating a lot of consideration preference on an attitudinal level – and then the same thing with those over indexing on action and purchasing. 

What we found proved the real complexities around understanding this area of marketing, and in turn shows the real value of brand lift metrics. There is no such thing as one size fits all; indeed the type of product will have a huge bearing on the stage of the funnel at which your advertising will start being effective for different people.

For example, if someone breaks down and needs a tow truck, they are not going to worry about the brand of tow truck that comes to their rescue. If they are taking a taxi in a new city they will be more likely to take one that is a known brand, even if they have no experience of it. A plane ticket for a short haul flight will almost certainly be obtained based on convenience and price rather than brand name, while when it comes to a newspaper subscription there will be a definite preference ahead of any type of online exploration.

All of which makes it so important for marketers to understand their consumers – new and existing – and get a solid insight into what kind of creatives and stories will promote a relationship with the brand at the most relevant point of the customer journey. Measuring brand lift is crucial to adding colour to these strategies as well as allowing for optimisation by measuring whether a live campaign is contributing to these already complex criteria, and then adjusting the work accordingly.

Is this easy? No. Certainly not compared to bidding for banners based on the presence of a cookie. But is it effective? Absolutely. 

There is no doubt we are heading into a new era of digital advertising, one that will develop gradually. The modern media sales industry is entering a fresh phase of professionalism, one that is undoubtedly more complex than we are used to seeing. 

And so we need a professional conversation to get out of the box of delivery metrics and into branded metrics; this is what will help support our industry as it changes. Marketing is a complex concept and we have the data to help, we just need to do two things: one, make a complex issue as simple as possible by being consistent, comparable, platform-based and systematic. The second is we need to equip people with the data and knowledge to bring about real change.