"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Patrick Hopf, president and founder at SourceKnowledge.
Challenges like viewability, fraud and bot traffic have seized the attention of the online advertising industry, but instead of getting distracted by problems that can only be solved by the industry as a whole, brand marketers should focus on what already works.
Insights into what drives consumers to convert should be used to optimize current campaigns and inform future campaigns. What really matters is a brand’s ROI, and that’s tied up in understanding the path to purchase of the consumer who actually makes a purchase.
Marketers can look backward on the technical weaknesses of their campaigns, or they can look forward and build upon performance. The second option has much more to do with why brands invest in digital in the first place. Digital offers insights to track the path of purchase, course-correct in real time and understand how consumers convert.
This is where brands need to focus on attribution and campaign optimization to reach first-time consumers and understand long-term behavior to reach coveted repeat buyers. In comparison, everything else is a red herring.
Conversion Attribution At Work
Midway through a campaign to reach millennial males in large US cities, variations in performance likely become pronounced and illustrate the 80/20 rule. Machine learning makes it possible for the brand to reallocate ad spend to focus on the top-performing markets. Honing on what’s working removes the viewability concern from the equation.
Facebook, meanwhile, has spent more than a year demonstrating the ROI of its platform to brand advertisers and offers a number of services intended to help brands understand conversion attribution. The common thread running through most services launched by Facebook for businesses is the ability of these tools to correlate online and offline purchases to ads that consumers have been exposed to via Facebook. Understanding that correlation can help brands decide how to devise more engaging and impactful campaigns in the future, leading to even more conversions and ROI.
Facebook has made headway in making its ads more engaging, such as introducing larger right-column ads or auto-play video ads in the newsfeed. But it’s devoted a large amount of thought and research over the past year to understanding what kind of ad content works and what kind of cross-channel marketing efforts succeed in conjunction with ads on its platform.
This has entailed extensive testing of consumer audiences to determine how serving a brand’s target audiences with Facebook ads correlated to the number of opens it saw on an email campaign. Or what kind of creative content in the ads correlated to conversions or other campaign goals among consumers who had been exposed to the ads. Facebook can tell advertisers what good ad performance looks like, in terms of how different campaign methods worked. Walking the brand back through a campaign gives it something that brands really value and need, empowering them to make future campaigns even more impactful.
Get Better Now
Impact, performance and, ultimately, ROI are what’s important to brands in digital. These are issues that can be addressed right now and improved immediately by understanding conversion attribution and optimizing campaigns accordingly.
The issues faced by the industry are not imaginary. While you may find ways to close loopholes, sometimes the release of a new solution can inspire new ways of faking data. But the real data that marketers already have at their fingertips can reveal insights that will boost ad performance immediately.