The ad industry needs a new, reliable metric with a true correlation to brand lift.
Hey advertising industry, we need to talk. The metrics you use to assess the success of brand campaigns just aren't working. Maybe it's something you're fully aware of, or you need some convincing, but either way, you have to realize that you're long overdue for a change.
Deep down, we know you wish you could do better. You wish you could work off better data, data that isn't collected from users behind their backs, data that doesn't rely on a disappearing technology like cookies. If you’re looking to regain confidence in your data, if you want to trust the insights you’re basing your campaign optimizations on, we have the solution.
The metrics you’re using are too old
Click-Through Rate is a Useless Metric
There are no two ways around it; CTR became unreliable over the years. It’s a metric that made a lot of sense back in the day, but it’s now so easy to fake with bots that it doesn’t really provide good information anymore.. In 2011, Nielsen ran a study concluding CTR simply doesn’t correlate with brand lift or impact consumer attitudes.
In fact, in another study in 2012, Nielsen concluded that the correlation between CTR and brand lift was negative at -0.7%.
So we've known for 10 years that CTR just... doesn't provide good insights when it relates to brand campaigns, but it's been ingrained in the industry's methods for so long that we all go along with it. Let's be clear here, inertia has never been a good way to pick a metric, and never will be.
But wait, it gets Worse! CTR is an old metric (understatement of the year right here). It comes from a simpler, gentler time. A time when the internet was full of hopeful rascals building a new world. It was built in a time when you could rely on the fact that every user visiting a website was a human being sitting at a desk, clicking away.
Things have become extremely different since. Click farms and bot programs have become rampant, driving up the CTR and clicks on ads to game the metrics and prevent you from spending your ad money correctly. CTR is not a bad metric per se, but it hasn’t really evolved with the times.
Viewability Is Just As Unreliable
This is another metric that was simply built at a different time when most of the traffic a website saw came from desktop users. That's just not the reality anymore and hasn't been for several years now.
An ad being viewed just isn't a great metric when you're trying to assess the impact it had on a user. The general consensus is that an ad is “viewed” if 50% of its pixels are viewed. Are all your ads designed to still be good if only the top half is seen? Most of them just aren’t, and why would you want to pay to show only half your ad?
As Dan Beltramo, former EVP, Product Leadership, Marketing Effectiveness at Nielsen said: “It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that viewability equates to success. But a viewed ad does not guarantee brand lift. Simply being viewed proves only that someone saw it, not that they connected with it.”
In other words, viewability might be an interesting filter to make sure that your ads were indeed delivered, but it has no value as a performance metric for your campaigns.
Brand Recall Studies Rely On Flawed Sources
One of the main ways the ad industry gauges the success of an ad hasn't really changed since we started taking ads seriously
We get a representative group of people in a room, we show them a series of ads, we get them talking, we ask if they remember the ad, ask them what they thought of it, take notes, rinse and repeat. On paper, it seems like a great, no-nonsense method.
In practice, it has one main problem: it relies on human memory. As you’re probably well aware, memories are imperfect, and we have a perfect anecdote to illustrate this point.
GlassRoom, one of our media agency clients, told us about one of the brand recall studies they ran. The study was performed as it always would, selecting people, showing them ads, and collecting opinions, likes and dislikes. The people selected remembered watching the ad on tv, but it has never been run on this medium.
So maybe keep that in mind next time you're thinking about doing a brand recall study?
Brand Lift Surveys Are Annoying
Brand lift surveys are the little popups next to ads you might see once in a while asking what you thought of it. Every platform from Facebook to Spotify and even some ad networks have some version of this service.
While it fixes the delay issue that brand recall studies have by asking for opinions in real-time, it still has one major issue: They’re annoying. Seeing an ad is one thing, being disrupted and asked to give your opinion when you’re just trying to access content is tedious.
It’s quite simple, these types of surveys are the only method platforms can provide advertisers to have some real-time feedback on a campaign. Realistically though, it’s only giving you insights on a fraction of the people who saw the ad, and their opinion was most likely tainted by the way it was asked.
context is everything in advertising.
Hey Big Spender
Neuromarketing is a relatively new field that solidified the link between psychology and marketing. If you've never heard of these studies, participants are hooked up with electrodes and shown ad campaigns, while brain specialists look at which areas of the brain get stimulated to get raw data on how the ad is perceived.
As you can imagine, this is a very (very) expensive process, but it does get around the barriers that participants might usually put up instead of voicing their true opinion about an ad campaign shown to them. On top of these studies not being very budget-friendly, they ignore one big aspect of advertising: Context. Neuromarketing studies just casually ignore that whole aspect.
No one views ads in a white room with electrodes on their forehead. We view them on our way to work on the subway, at night sitting on the couch with a snack, in our cars along the highway, etc. An ad made for a subway will be dramatically different than one made for a roadside billboard because context is everything in advertising.
Data is changing
Cookies have been a mainstay in the online advertising industry pretty much since online ads started existing. However, rising privacy-related demands from consumers have led Google to announce a complete phase-out of third-party cookies on their popular Chrome web browser, and all other browsers have followed suit.
This will obviously have a dramatic impact on a lot of the targeting parameters you currently use to serve ads to users. However, it shines a light on a larger trend: People just don't like being tracked online. While you still need to rely on some kind of metric to figure out if your ads were successful or not, you should make sure it's one that has a minimal impact on users' privacy, this concern is not going away any time soon.
How Receptivity Fixes These Issues
Okay, sorry for the doom and gloom introduction, but as promised, now we have some good news. Our team has worked in the ad industry and published hundreds of ads over the years and felt the exact frustrations we just outlined. We just knew there had to be a better way to assess the success of an ad.
Our co-founder and CTO, a guy with a Ph.D. in physics, locked himself in a room with our other co-founder, someone with 20+ years of experience in the ad industry. Their combined knowledge of the ad industry and data analysis gave birth to the metric of the future, Receptivity.
Data Science Is The Key
As we explained earlier, the internet was very different when CTR, clicks, and viewability became the metrics used by the ad industry. However, there’s been one very positive change for the ad industry since: Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket now.
Every smartphone nowadays has a gyroscope and an accelerometer to allow for a variety of functions on the device. But to us, it means that everyone has a set of sensors in their hands when they surf the web. With this data, we can tell if a person is standing, sitting, in a car, in public transport, lying down, etc.
After analyzing billions of these data points using university-backed AI technology, we’ve discovered patterns that allow us to determine when a user is most likely to be receptive and therefore impacted by an ad.
This allows us to determine if an impression is receptive or not to your ad so you can buy it, all in real-time.
Whether a user is paying attention to their phone is absolutely crucial. A study in the International Journal of Electronic Commerce concluded that: “more attention leads to more opportunity to encode and store messages, and a positive relationship between attention and memory has been found by a number of eye-tracking studies”.
Put simply, if a user sees an ad when he’s actually paying attention to his phone, he has a higher chance of remembering your brand. Receptivity helps you determine when a user is in that state.
No Funny Business
Bots have evolved over the years to fake more than just clicks. They’re now able to fake mouse scrolls and even touch screen swipes to steal away your precious advertising dollars. However, the data points we use to create Receptivity simply can’t be faked. There’s only one way for the data we use to be generated: A human moving or tilting their smartphone in some way.
Receptivity, on the other hand, is generated in real-time directly on the user’s device. Not only does that mean our data is infinitely more reliable than what you’re used to, but it also means you can optimize your campaign in real-time using our metric.
The Changes You Can Expect
Brand lift studies have always been extremely expensive endeavors, which is why the ad industry relies on proxy metrics when a full-blown study isn’t feasible. The two main ones are awareness and purchase intent.
Basically, you want to make sure someone saw your ad and cared about what they saw to some extent. Receptivity has been proven to reliably impact these proxy metrics.
With Receptivity, we finally provide you with a satisfying answer to a very important question that has been at the core of online advertising forever: Did an actual human being see this ad?
That’s the core of awareness, making sure the ad was viewed by an actual human. Viewability, clicks and CTR seemed like they could prove that at one point, but clearly, those metrics have numerous pitfalls.
A Nielsen study determined that there are no strong correlations between CTR and any of the Brand Effect metrics. However, obtaining the best exposure to a brand can drive more than 15% lift on Ad Recall and other Brand Effect metrics
Receptivity is the only metric that can guarantee you the best exposure: When every impression you bought was shown to a real person.
But why stop there? A massive-scale study based on 85 online ad campaigns determined that the best proxy metric for intent is net visits to the advertiser’s site.
We recently ran a study of our own with one of our key clients, a major insurer. They used Receptivity as the key metric to drive their campaigns and saw an 88% increase in conversion rate.
We’ve alluded to it, but let’s say it fully: Relying on easily gamed metrics such as CTR, clicks, and viewability means you are losing money. If you paid for an impression that was generated by a bot, you have effectively lost that money. Since it wasn’t shown to a potential customer.
Receptivity gives you peace of mind by ensuring you that every single impression in the inventory you purchased has been proven to be a human being.
Measures like GDPR and Google’s cookie phase-out are there to stay, and more measures in a similar vein are likely to be added in the coming years. By using Receptivity, not only do you ensure that your ads are viewed by a human who is in the right context to care, you’re ensuring that you’ve achieved that without invading their privacy.
Your Ad Campaigns Will Never Be The Same
At the end of the day, there’s one main reason to use Receptivity: It’s the only way to ensure that every single impression you’re buying is an actual human. It changes everything.
It means more money because none of your dollars are wasted on bots.
It means happier clients because they can now see metrics they can trust.
It means repeat business because your campaign will produce a reliable impact on brand metrics.
It means happier users because they’re no longer being tracked against their will.
Contact our partner publishers today and buy receptive impressions.