Often I think ad campaigns are a lot like taking a trip. While you don’t always know how it’s going to turn out, you set off with the best intention of reaching your destination. What we don’t generally do on a trip however is to head out blindly and just wait to see where we end up. Instead, we use signposts and measurement tools along the way such as maps, sat navs, road signs and travel reports to help us get to our destination as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In the online world, signposts for ad campaigns have been virtually non-existent. While we want to exploit new online channels, we haven’t had a lot of control to help ensure that our messages are reaching and resonating with the right audiences.
The media landscape has changed dramatically. We know that TV viewing continues to grow, but it’s now multi screen and time shifted. Ecommerce is delivering a real step change in buying behaviour and smartphones and tablets are transforming relationships with individuals and buying behaviour. Online advertising is a real growth area. Search is the fasted growing in the industry but display is still growing at double digit.
What’s clear is that digital advertising presents a real opportunity to grab hold of the potential for incremental reach and frequency in the way we connect with people. Making sure that we are delivering to those groups effectively however is crucial. With economic pressure forcing budgets down, ROI becomes more important. A recent survey conducted by Nielsen shows that global CMO’s are feeling the pinch. Nearly half claimed that their budgets would be shrinking and 84% of the survey group claimed that their activity needed to be more measurable.
What is also clear from our survey is that while there is still a role for traditional online metrics, the vast majority want to see similar metrics to those that they’d been using offline to be able to make more comparable decisions.
The approach to online should be simple. We need to understand - am I reaching my audience? Is my advertising landing? Is it resonating? And ultimately, what is the reaction and do we see a change of behaviour? To protect investment you need to ensure your campaign is performing optimally throughout its journey.
At Nielsen, we can make that happen – in real-time. With Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, by manipulating both reach and resonance as the campaign is in flight we provide the optimal chance to maximise investment and deliver the strongest returns.
Already the product is showing us that there is significant risk of waste in the system. In our earliest results we’ve highlighted that just under 50% of all impressions are served to the intended target audience, and the variance is huge. In one example we see that the most efficient sites are delivering almost 100% of target and the lowest is delivering just 16% of target. We’ve also seen huge variance between the way publishers have reacted, and in isolated cases we’ve actually seen impressions being served outside the UK.
Improving performance means taking action. In one campaign where we saw that 35% of ads were being served overseas, we were able to immediately halt the activity to prevent wasted investment. In another campaign, we saw that one site wasn’t delivering against its target. Here, we were able to take a collaborative approach between the agency and the publisher to review how the underperforming site was working and with a simple phone call action was taken to improve the performance of that site. As a result, the site improved from performing at only 18% to nearing 25 to 30% in a matter of days.
So how can we use Nielsen Online Ratings to influence in flight messages around resonance to make sure our budget is being maximised even further?
Stolichnaya Vodka was able to use our services to measure the levels of purchase intent as an ad was being aired to a control audience. What they learned was that those that were exposed to a branded video were delivering an uplift in terms of their intention to buy. That positive improvement in brand lift gave the evidence to shape the campaign accordingly. As a result, they were able to manoeuvre the campaign in flight and divert the budget much more toward maximising branded video exposure.
Another client wanted to understand how slightly different creative units were performing in the marketplace. By testing multiple formats they found that they could optimise their campaign by re-allocating impressions to higher performing creative units. In doing so they delivered a 56% better result and increased their effective spend on the campaign by over $100,000.
As I’ve gone out and met with customers and advertisers and talked to them about their key challenges, they universally tell me that they want the confidence to change the way they invest in media and that they want to ensure that their investment is working for them at all times.
With Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings we are already reducing waste in the marketplace. We are able to expose very early on in a campaign where there is opportunity through collaborative approaches to improve where ads are being served. We can adjust the balance of cover and frequency in real-time, and we now have the opportunity to focus on high performance creative and make sure that they’re landing rather than waiting until the end of the process to measure if a creative is delivering ROI.
We are also looking to understand unduplicated reach. Later in the year we will be launching Nielsen Cross Platform Campaign Ratings in the UK which will allow us to understand the relationship between television and digital advertising to really begin to bring that cross platform comparison to life.
Online presents enormous opportunity to advertisers. Up until now it has also been a significant source of waste. By improving measurement capability and driving the ability to accurately capture and adjust online campaigns in real-time, Nielsen is spearheading the drive to increase ROI in today’s increasingly multi-platform world.