How Advertisers Can Use KPIs to Boost Their Competitive Advantage


Most advertisers recognise the importance of using the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure their ad campaigns, but as a recent IAB survey revealed, relatively few are active in updating the KPIs they actually use, harming their campaigns in the process.  Here Marc Rouanet, CEO of Sublime Skinz, explains where KPI measurement is by-and-large falling short at the moment, and how advertisers should be using KPIs more efficiently to get the most out of their creative campaigns.

In today’s hyper-competitive and increasingly overcrowded environment, advertising success depends on delivering engaging messages that capture consumer attention. High-impact ad formats, such as video, are arguably the best at achieving audience engagement across both mobile and desktop, and offer the highest levels of brand awareness. However, brands still need a granular understanding of which messages, creative approaches, and channels work best for their target audiences.

So, it’s no surprise that measurement — typically via key performance indicators (KPIs) — is moving up the industry agenda. Indeed, 91 percent of marketers cite evaluation of their efforts as a top priority. Using the right KPIs, brands can achieve the holistic view of both reach and impact needed to create captivating campaigns that outshine rivals.

But the question is: what KPIs should they be using to obtain the best insight?

Making it count
Let’s take a look at the current state of KPI measurement. Previously, advertisers have relied solely on sales figures or in-store footfall to gauge the success of their latest campaign. However, the rise of digital has increased addressability and measurement capability. As a result, marketers have rapidly moved from basic sales metrics to standard KPIs — such as click through rates (CTR) or Video through rates (VTR) — and more refined measurements, focusing on interaction with specific elements, such as social media and search behaviour.

However, there is a twofold issue with KPIs. Some advertisers have identified performance areas they are keen to measure but are failing to take action, while others are focusing their attention exclusively on metrics such as viewability.

1. Mismatched metrics
The IAB’s recent Digital Brand Advertising and Measurement survey shows that while a large number of advertisers are aware of a variety of KPIs and their value, many are yet to implement them. Indeed, three metrics identified as most important include brand familiarity, targeting accuracy, and purchase intent – yet these are currently used by less than 40 percent of advertisers. This discrepancy is being seen across the varied number of measurements available to advertisers, publishers, and agencies alike. For example, recall rates are cited as a priority for 81 percent of advertisers and 70 percent give precedence to cost per completed view; yet these are used by only 48 percent and 37 percent respectively – confirming disparity as an issue that needs to be rectified swiftly.

2. Refining the focus
There is also the problem that too much emphasis is often placed on a select few KPIs. Many using video in their campaigns, for example, set their sights on view through rate (VTR); 77 percent of those questioned for the IAB survey said this was an area they wanted to focus on. However, though undeniably important, VTR only covers a small piece of the performance picture, and doesn’t allow for other factors to be taken into consideration. Whether the ad can be skipped makes a significant difference, while the device on which the video is being played also has an effect. On mobile, for instance, shorter videos have greater impact – but this is not something the VTR metric can reflect. So, advertisers depending primarily on this KPI are not only presented with a distorted picture, but are also offered little further insight into which creative messages, channels, and tactics drive consumers to interact, and buy.

This is not only hindering the vast potential of KPIs, but also hurting advertisers’ wallets on a global scale by detracting attention from ad fraud: a problem that currently costs the industry $16.7 billion and is predicted to triple to $50 billion by 2027. Evidently, more focus is needed on verifying audiences and using KPIs that assess tangible response, not just evaluating whether ads are seen. For example, metrics that reflect ‘real’ behaviour, rather than the easily deceived CTR, increase the chances of guaranteeing ads successfully reach a genuine audience.

Getting the full measure
With the average consumer now owning three smart devices, cross-screen content consumption is fast becoming the norm. But, rather than viewing this as a challenge, advertisers should approach it as an opportunity to engage more users, more often, and gain even better audience understanding. While some may be concerned that it is harder to ensure engagement across channels, this needn’t be the case. The data that can be collected via digital devices – especially mobile – actually makes it easier for advertisers to target relevant consumers and, in turn, ensure that they benefit from maximum ROI.

In addition, cross-platform usage provides opportunities for advertisers to trial different high-impact formats and engagement techniques – from swipe and touch screen to interactive video – and KPIs in this area can be utilised to see which is most effective for both current and future campaigns. Sublime Skinz recently used KPIs from a multi-device video campaign with French brand Cdiscount to establish that interactive, high-impact video advertising formats were the most effective in obtaining positive results. Brand image perception for those exposed to multi-device ads was 24 percent greater than among unexposed participants, and campaign recall was also 20 percent higher .

Advertisers are looking to newer, more specific KPIs to help monitor their campaigns across platforms – but figures indicate there is still significant room for improvement. Two years ago, measuring synergies of multi-screening was not even on many advertisers’ radar; yet by the start of 2018, 56 percent stated it was. However, with only 11 percent of advertisers actually using this metric, and their investments over mobile and tablets increasing up to 15 percent year-on-year, it’s imperative for them to adopt relevant KPIs to ensure expenditure is well founded.

Advertisers need to be proactive in embracing the technology to measure KPIs that they know will support continued success – rather than simply stating these are areas they’d like to explore. By supporting each other, and sharing knowledge around metrics, companies will be able to help fuel wide-scale adoption, and ensure a prosperous future not only for themselves, but also for the industry as a whole. The intent is promising – now is the time for action.


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