Are you sure that ad campaign is effective?
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”
John Wanamake might have said that a whole century ago, but it has resonated with advertisers ever since.
Digital advertising has long held the promise that precise analytics could allow marketers to spend with pinpoint accuracy. Actual results have varied – often impressive, but still far short of the dream.
Could 2020 be the year when, as an industry, we start to reassess and have hard conversations about how we measure campaign success?
Lots of brands still look at things such as impressions, clicks, completed views, as the absolute measures of effectiveness. And as indicators, they’re serviceable and solid.
But nobody buys advertising because they want an 80 per cent video completion rate. They buy advertising because they want to build their brand, engage customers and sell products.
If you’ve been subjected to a noisy, unskippable ad experience then yes, it’ll show a high complete rate and viewability; but you don’t think well of the advertiser. However because we rely on stats like video-completion to measure success, it’s entirely possible for a brand to waste money on a channel that’s ineffective, or worse, damaging.
My personal video completion rate is quite high because I treat any unskippable or delayed skip video ad as a suggestion to put the kettle on and make a nice cup of tea.
There are increasing numbers of feedback channels which allow advertisers to close the loop and see the causal links between advertising and brand value. These include increased tracking, but also fast feedback tools like real-time surveys.
At the sci-fi end, several companies are experimenting with mood-measurement from lightweight brainwave scanning devices, to solve the accuracy gap that David Ogilvy nailed: "People don't think what they feel, don't say what they think, and don't do what they say."
From this, we’ll start to see more brands, vendors and agencies adopt ‘end goal’ measures such as purchase intent alongside or instead of instant behavioural ones such as clicks.
Unfortunately, every step forward is accompanied by a certain amount of hype and bluff. To really progress, we need to become more comfortable with uncertainty and the intangible – restoring the art in advertising, while taking the best of the science.
In terms of other AdTech predictions for 2020, I believe the most noticeable change will be new advert channels.
The Internet of Things is gaining pace. Like the regular internet, there will be a drive for advertising-based business models to fund free or low-price smart objects. For example, a future fridge might connect to special offers at the local shops, and with one-click shoppable recipes.
Out-of-Home (OOH) is increasingly going digital, and from digital it’s a hop and a skip to programmatic, with the superior flexibility and speed to market it offers.
Augmented reality is also back — after the misadventure of Google Glass, it is returning more carefully, as task-specific tools and teaching aids. With AR comes the potential for new adverts.
Innovations might include virtual avatar ads, and personalised OOH adverts, where a generic billboard is replaced for AR viewers.
We’ll also see growth in the nascent field of voice adverts, primarily for Alexa and Google Home.