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The Evolution of Reporting: From Clicks to Content

Reporting on digital marketing has progressed enormously over the past decade and although the fundamental clicks and impressions are still very much a cornerstone of measurement, they rarely paint a full picture. Here we’ll look at some cases of where more complex forms of measurement are applied and where we are in reaching peak efficiency levels in reporting.
Native advertising…complex reporting
New York Times Content

A relatively new comer to the digital space, native advertising is fast becoming the cool kid on the block. It can be described as ‘paid content often disguised as organic content’.  Native ads are intended to look ‘at home’ in their surroundings and to match the tone of voice of the website.

Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge with native is finding an accurate way to measure its success. Naturally, it is harder and more complex to measure than its traditional display counterparts and harder to identify exactly how this affects the bottom line. Gross consensus is that engagement metrics are best employed here; dwell rates, visits, shares, retweets and linkbacks, should all be taken into account to complete a comprehensive assessment. 

The idea is that ultimately, it is looked at in the same way publishers measure the impact of their site content. Many industry experts believe that by 2017, brands will gauge success by audience reach and attention minutes. Clicks are all well and good, but they don’t indicate the satisfaction a reader derives from content or a users’ affinity to a brand.

To ensure that this promising new format continues to flourish and become a permanent fixture on media plans (and to keep the CFO’s happy), we need to keep continued focus on reporting to make it a creditable and scalable solution. IAB have recognised the need for definitions and structure around native and produced a ‘playbook’ of guiding principles to help buyers and sellers.


Online activity & offline sales

One major headache for digital marketers in recent years has been the task of attributing (or marrying ) online activity to offline sales – what happens when the customer walks away from the computer?

Online retail has grown exponentially over the past number of years and has changed customer shopping habits for good. The lines between online and offline are blurred and it is therefore important for marketers to be able to track both online and offline sales.

There are a number of methods that have the ability to measure and compare online and offline traffic. Universal Google Analytics, Omniture, comScore and Webtrends are all able to implement some degree of online and offline data together. Each of these tools has the ability to link up with CRM systems and Point of Sale systems and as a result measure online and offline macro and micro conversions. These tools allow you to track unique coupons that come from a digital or offline source. 

Using Universal Analytics one can track the ClientID of a user when they submit their information in a form (for example, in an online auto insurance quote), you can trigger a Google Analytics event when the quote is completed by telephone, triggering a conversion and recording the attribution of this conversion. Moreover, using sophisticated CRM platforms, marketers can measure the impact of their online campaigns in terms of how much marketing spend it takes to get a customer in store, what they buy and how they are spending. The possibilities with this platform have opened previously closed doors to offline analytics.

Recently, with Ikea’s help Dentsu Aegis’s  Vizeum and iProspect in the UK set out to prove if investment in social media – particularly Facebook – by retailers can be shown to have an impact on footfall and sales. The team created two identical groups; one group that would be exposed to advertising on Facebook and a control group that would not be exposed. The idea was to physically track each group using their mobile signal to see who actually visited an IKEA store during the campaign period. It would represent the first time mobile data has been linked to social advertising to track the impact on real life behaviour.

The team conclusively proved that Facebook advertising significantly influenced consumers’ shopping behaviour. The advertising successfully attracted extra visitors to IKEA Cardiff: geo-targeted Facebook ads drove 31% uplift in store visits among 22-25 year olds and an 11% increase in visits across all age groups. These additional visitors delivered an ROI of 6:1 against the paid media spend.

Although these new tools bring about new opportunities and bring us closer to resolving the ‘offline tracking quandry’, it is still incredibly difficult to report on fully accurate offline data. It will be exciting to witness how this progresses.


Big data….small insights

The new buzzword ‘Big Data’ is thrown around but do we all really know what it means?  When someone says ‘big data’ they’re talking about using computers to find trends and influence decisions. Enormous collections of information, trends that people can’t pick out because there’s too much data for humans to sift through. Trends that previously would have been accumulated by using focus groups, test shoppers and even two-ways mirrors! Big data management involves detailing internet users online journey, revealing their interests, content of their communications and the purchases they make etc.

Advertisers using big data analytics platforms, can gain fresh insights from raw chaotic data that to form actionable insights that will subsequently inform marketing decisions and strategies. These insights will in turn provide trust and transparency of media consumption.

By using big data analytics platforms, companies are now able to capture, store and analyse all collected data. These detailed analytics platforms provide information in real time allowing advertisers a shorter turnaround time for insights which in helps make decisions in real time and take immediate action on fresh reliable and relevant data. For example, a well- known car brand noticed consumers who spend more than a minute and forty-five seconds on its website tend to buy a car within 10 days. As a result, the car maker decided to tailor its web content to ease those users down the funnel and toward a sale.

Additionally, increase in smartphone penetration has given way to the opportunity to target people at the right time and place.   Social and location based targeting allows brands to target people with promotions if they are in a certain locations.

Profiling online users like this is only one step toward unlocking ‘big datas’ potential. For now it is advisable for marketers to take stock of all the information that is readily available to them and develop highly targeted advertising campaigns. The concern is that with digital accounting for an average 25% of media budgets, if companies and advertisers don’t jump on the Big Data band wagon they will be left behind.

OTS & Viewability

Another major development that is hot on the lips of all digital marketers is…viewability. This has gained huge focus and attention particularly over the past year and as such, we’ll be discussing this in-depth tomorrow (in addition to our fun buzzword bingo). We figured it was worthy of its own shiny blog!