It’s a debate entered into daily and depending on who you speak to you will get different opinions. Is the benefit of digital media about the exposure (commonly reverted back to a branding benefit) or the click (ie the immediate reaction)
I was sent the Comscore ‘wither the click’ study twice this week (thanks Cam Curtis and Matt Connell) and it’s an interesting read but covers similar ground to many previously.
“Are low click rates evidence that an ad has not had any impact on consumer behavior? Or, does online display advertising work in a similar manner to traditional offline advertising with multiple exposures over time being needed to effect a change in consumer behavior?”
Basically, it argues that online display advertising does indeed work in a similar manner to ‘traditional’ advertiising. The below is lifted from the study.
It’s clear that display advertising, despite a lack of clicks, can have a significant positive impact on:
– Visitation to the advertiser’s Web site (lift of at least 46% over a four week period)
– The likelihood of consumers conducting a search query using the advertiser’s branded terms (a lift of at least 38% over a four week period)
– Consumers’ likelihood of buying the advertised brand online (an average 27% lift in online sales)
– Consumers’ likelihood of buying at the advertiser’s retail store (an average lift of 17%)
Okay, okay … most of us realise that. So – online is about exposure?
Well … it could be said it’s really about both exposure and response depending on a load of variables (environment, unit, advertisers, message). We could argue all day really.
If it’s about response, pricing sort of sorts itself out. Google is about response – so the price is generally dictated by supply and demand and what each advertiser is willing to pay for an action. Performance advertising is similar – it’s an exchange
If it’s about exposure we might have some problems …
Digital might be quite significantly overpriced when compared with other media. Particularly broadcast media that is about volume – which is generally the way most larger internet players sell themselves – on audience numbers not context (well some have some fluffy trusted yada yada consumer brand spin but generally it’s about reach).
So – if we compare like for like impact across a 30 second TVC, full page mag placement, 30 second radio spot, metro press etc – how does it stack up dollar for dollar?
Remember, the two variables are reach as well as impact … not just reach. Lets stop fooling ourselves that our humble leaderboards and medium rectangles have a comparative impact to a TVC. A 30 second TVC eyeball for eyeball will cut through more than a medium rectangle below the fold surrounded by 600 words of content and 5 competing banners/spots/dots all flashing and competing for attention.
And that’s something I think requires a lot of additional thought. My feeling is digital needs to stop trying to compete as a broadcast medium and focus on niches – areas which has a clear point of difference and competitive advantage in terms of engagement and volume and relevancy for advertisers.
Just like there’s a challenge for creative agencies to create relevant messages, and media agencies to plan communications around relevant contexts, the challenge for publishers is to complete the cycle and create relevant impact.
The majority of display advertising in AU is broken. The pricing is generally without rationale. The ad units are after-thoughts and the majority of players aren’t seriously open to interesting, truly impactful executions. If we want to keep whining that we represent x% of media consumption and only y% of spend then we need to open ourselves up to similar executions that other media channels provide and stop sprouting the old ‘user experience’ comment that if a publisher runs an interstitial its userbase will revolt and go elsewhere.
I think digital attribution, or misattribution has worked relatively well up until now but I’m not sure how much longer post view conversions and SEM conversions can be 100% attributed to digital so we can keep saying how amazingly ‘accountable’ it is.
I guess my challenge in my day job is to try and help solve this problem. What do the rest of you think? I guess we’re all in it together.