From impressions to people: elevating the conversation

05/31 By Travis Lusk

2016 was an exciting year for digital measurement. Social networks and walled gardens opened up for third-party verification, and huge strides were made in bringing transparency to mobile in-app inventory. Digital advertisers are now well poised to measure the media quality of their campaigns no matter where they are buying, down to the impression level. But as we continue to improve our coverage of the open web and collect all this valuable data, marketers are already looking ahead. Yes, a viewable, fraud-free, and brand safe campaign should be the baseline of any marketing strategy, but what do we focus on next?

Enter the consumer. The consumer has always been at the heart of digital advertising; we embraced the medium to reach people in new ways previously unthought-of of in print and TV advertising. But along the way we got caught up in the mechanics, focusing on the impression and media served instead. It made sense, as we needed to solidify the building blocks of digital advertising: ad serving, audience targeting, programmatic buying, page optimization, and, of course, measurement.

Now that advertising technology has advanced, we can finally pay attention to people again – and there’s a lot of work to be done. In our H2 2016 Media Quality Report, we found that for most campaigns, 60-80% of consumers are served only one or two impressions. After layering in viewability data, the situation gets bleaker: 70-85% of consumers are served no more than one viewable impression. Finally, when tracking exposure time, we found that 50-65% of consumers are exposed to ads on the campaign for a total of five seconds or less.

Clearly, the vast majority of consumers could be more effectively addressed with digital advertising efforts. Why spend precious creative time and energy on ads that never have the opportunity to influence?  As an industry, we need to bring people back to the forefront of our digital marketing strategies and give them enough time to absorb our messages. To do this, we need to ensure that we’re looking at the entire consumer journey and analyzing each touch point along the way. Only when we start doing this will marketers have the insight they need to stop wasting spend and deliver truly effective advertising campaigns.