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How to successfully challenge your programmatic media measurement (Updated for 2018)

Strategy By: Pete HanfordMay 30, 2018

Digital measurement has stumbled at the first hurdle, held back by a tendency to measure what is easy.

Pete Hanford, Revenue Director at Infectious Media, shares his insights on how marketers can successfully challenge their programmatic media measurement to assess what really drives performance.

Pete HanfordLast week, I was told by one of Europe’s largest brands that their board has a weekly display KPI that they track:  volume of impressions.

I almost spat out my tea in amazement. 

For someone like me who has built my career in digital, I found this amazing in a day and age where data targeting is king.

How can board level be so archaic? 

I wonder if the other KPI that they look at is how many “hits” their website had.

Despite its many benefits, data-driven programmatic buying has been challenging to advertisers.  

From understanding and navigating this complex ecosystem, to lack of transparency, increased viewability, fraud, creative and data sources- the list is on-going.

But I’m pretty certain measurement and attribution is the most common challenge and topic of discussion amongst advertisers, whatever stage of evolution they are at.

(Update: In fact, our 2018 marketer survey proves it. 66% of you report finding it 'very' or 'extremely' challenging. You can get the full results of that survey here.)

The fact that digital allows advertisers to attribute their activity in a more robust manner in comparison to traditional media is a huge opportunity.  Now that we are 20+ years into digital, there are constant challenges to make activity work because last-click rarely stacks up.

This leaves advertisers asking:

“How can I measure the upper funnel?”

Most of the digital directors I have met agree that last- or post-click is an irrelevant measure for display as a channel. Nearly all studies show that display is higher up in the buying funnel.  But they are almost always hamstrung to do anything about it as last-click is what digital has been built on. Budget allocation is a tough task as internal reporting is always on a last click model.

The tools are now available to evolve beyond last-click attribution. They range from a basic conversion path analysis, to rules-based & algorithmic attribution modelling.  


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But the board level are still off the pace.

Our survey found that internal reluctance to change was a major barrier to better measurement for 53% of marketers.  

They need to become willing to change the way they measure programmatic advertising. Otherwise, digital marketers are going to struggle to move the needle in the upper funnel.

The board level needs a reason to change and this is often down to bottom of the funnel saturation. However, now digital marketers have the tools and data to prove the worth of their activity internally.  So, I take my hat off to the digital marketers, agencies and brands that are doing something about this challenge from the clients.


Building an internal case for change

  1. Arm yourselves with research showing your current models inaccuracies
  2. Educate people internally about the opportunity facing your business, and what the benefits will be of changing
  3. Learn from others who have successfully changed what the challenges were

What can you do about it?

If you are motivated to change, my advice would be to use your data, test everything, and analyse incrementality. Change is possible if you offer the insight back to your business to help evolve measurement.

This won’t solve everything and it starts to get more complicated when you begin considering buying influence from non-digital and non-measurable factors.  Even though there's no silver bullet in measurement, your business will not move forward if you just use last click.

To learn more about incrementality, and what marketers can do measure their programmatic advertising more accurately read our new whitepaper:

Measuring What Matters


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Find out more about programmatic measurement here


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