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Member blog: How the industry is using KPIs and what needs to change

By Estelle Reale, Marketing Director Sublime Skinz

If the industry’s ultimate goal is to create relevant and engaging advertising experiences that drive results, then a priority must also be to precisely gauge whether campaigns are doing this, or not. And this is why the IAB Europe’s Digital Brand Advertising and Measurement survey has become a crucial barometer of where evaluation focus is now and what direction it must take next.  The following blog explores some of the highlights covered in the report based on the survey.

This year’s report demonstrates that advertisers, agencies, and publishers appreciate the need to align KPIs with growing trends; including rising multi-media consumption and ad quality concerns. But, when it comes to accurately assessing the impact ads make, there is still a gap between knowing what we should be tracking and putting those metrics into action.

Let’s take a closer look at the current state of digital measurement.

Making ads memorable matters

If brands want to stand out against competitors, ads must leave a positive and lasting impression; particularly as consumers’ preferences to avoid trawling through endless retail options means 90% of purchase decisions are now made via subconscious shortcuts. Consequently, it’s no surprise that brand awareness is not only cited as a vital KPI for 88% of stakeholders, but also already used by most. On average, 64% currently measure brand awareness and, among advertisers and agencies, adoption is even higher at 78% and 74% respectively.

Growing focus on safety, viewability, and versatility

Recent ad misplacement issues and rising fraud costs — set to absorb £8 billion of display spend by 2021 — have put brand safety and ad verification firmly in the industry spotlight. And results reveal advertisers, agencies, and publishers alike are keen to ensure these values are assessed, with an overall 84% listing them as priorities.

Similarly, it looks as though increasing demands for transparency are fuelling determination to ascertain whether ads have the chance to be seen and make an impact, not just whether they are delivered. Over the last 12 months, the number of stakeholders who acknowledge the need to measure viewable rather than served impressions has climbed from 81% to 84%, and interest in the way ads are served is low, resting at 56% in total.

And finally, with the average consumer owning between three and four devices and regularly switching between them to view content, better cross-media evaluation is starting to become a prime necessity. More than 80% of stakeholders believe a better understanding of how different channels work in combination, not isolation, is imperative for driving advertising spend. Evidently, creating the right, unified media mix is now integral to produce effective and engaging experiences.

Looking ahead: closing measurement gaps

Overall, the results paint a picture of an industry where major players are responding to constant evolution in audience behaviour and the advertising ecosystem. But discrepancies between desired KPIs and actual KPIs show measurement still has some way to go.

Many metrics related to ad impact — such as purchase intent (88%), sales (79%), and uplift in direct site visits (77%) — ranked highly as important measures. Yet figures for deployment of these KPIs are far lower, with all measured by less than half of stakeholders. Indeed, even viewability is presently tracked by just 48% of agencies, advertisers, and publishers.

The good news, however, is that we have a defined path of future progress. Clearly, most stakeholders understand which KPIs are critical to achieve the holistic view of performance needed to better inform digital spend and campaign optimisation — and it’s encouraging to see many metrics are already in place. The next step is to complete the set.

Of course, large-scale measurement adoption won’t be a simple task. Inevitably, some time and resources will be required to employ technologies that can verify media quality, track viewability, and trace cross-media ad responses. There may also be a necessity for knowledge sharing and collaboration to use tools effectively. But there is little doubt such efforts will be worthwhile and even essential to power the industry’s collective sustainability and success.

Access the IAB Europe Digital Brand Advertising and Measurement Report here.

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