It’s a great day for digital advertising and Consumer Exposure technology is the reason

05/03 By Scott Knoll
Woman making online purchase

Yesterday, IAS announced that we are launching a new technology with a select group of some of the world’s top brands to enable them to do something that has never been possible before. This solution provides these brands with the ability to measure and control how long they are placing their messages in front of targeted consumers. Though time-based measurement is not new, what’s unique about this solution is that brands will be able to understand and control total exposure of every consumer across numerous media properties over an extended period.

Up until this point, any time-based discussion has been around a specific ad impression on a single web property and not tied to the consumer journey. Yesterday’s announcement represents a giant step towards the future of marketing and we are excited and honored to be working with such influential, forward-thinking brands.

It’s time to think of viewability as more than a binary metric.

Viewability has been a hot topic for a few years and reached a fever pitch in the past two weeks with Oracle’s acquisition of Moat and comScore’s announcement that in the future it’s going to provide basic viewability measurement for free. While this focus on determining which ad impressions meet the minimum threshold of time in view is important, we need to all recognize that this is merely a starting point. If we are going to truly take advantage of the power of digital, we need to elevate the conversation from viewable ad impressions to consumer exposure, with the goal of determining how specific brand messages are influencing consumers. Understanding how long and often an individual consumer is exposed to each brand message across different media environments is the obvious building block from which to start.

From there, tracking the relationship between this information and subsequent online or offline business outcomes will provide an invaluable roadmap to understanding the consumer journey from awareness to purchase. There will be other factors to analyze such as the quality of the exposure, device type, media format and audience profile and only by mapping this complete history of exposure will brands truly understand which messages and placements are influencing their consumers. Ultimately the brands that master this approach and leverage technology to optimize on the data will have the edge as they push to grow their revenue in an increasingly competitive environment.

Digital’s existing technologies were designed to manage impressions rather than exposures.

When we invented digital advertising in the 1990s, we did the best we could at the time. We copied the print model and adopted the principles of direct marketing, because they seemed like the most applicable media. The ad impression was established as the base trading unit and ad servers quickly became the core technology for both buyers and sellers of digital advertising.

Unfortunately, as we have since learned, a served ad impression is often not viewable by a human and does not address the critical dimension of exposure time. Even more problematic, until today, the only way that we could attempt to control ad exposure and frequency to a specific individual was by leveraging the frequency capping functionality on each separate ad server.

It’s incredibly difficult to hit reach and frequency goals when the available technology doesn’t allow you to effectively manage either. We may have settled for imperfect metrics like the GRP in traditional media, but with digital it would be a shame to do the same. Our mission at IAS is to make sure that our industry does not have to settle.

Now that brands can measure and control consumer exposure, there is no going back.

Some people may suggest consumer exposure measurement is unimportant or the latest fad. But once brand marketers can understand and control how long and often a targeted consumer sees information about their company and products, why would they go back to just buying, measuring and analyzing media based on ad impressions? They won’t. At least not the savvy ones.

With yesterday’s announcement, we are taking a big step in a new direction where advertising will no longer be measured just on ad impressions served, viewability rates, clicks or other proxies meant to suggest attention. We’re taking a big step in a new direction where brand marketers will take control of how they convey their stories throughout the customer journey and publishers with quality exposures will be rewarded. We’re taking a big step in a new direction where brand marketers will be able to finally quantify the actual relationships between exposures to specific messages and their influence on driving business outcomes. We’re taking a big step and for the industry it’s not a moment too soon.