There is still too much obsession with ‘the click’ as a method of determining ad effectiveness, simply because it is an easy metric to quantify and understand, according to Inskin’s global insight lead Sebastian Schindler.
Schindler's comments came during a panel discussion on verification at the advertising technology company’s annual conference in Hong Kong this week. Inskin defines verification broadly, as encompassing viewability, brand safety, fraud detection and audience validation measures that avoid wasting money and maximise "exposure quality in order to build and refresh memory structures in the consumer’s mind".
Schindler’s colleague, general manager Angeline Lodhia, said she frequently speaks to agencies who say ‘you just can’t help but think about the click’. “Why this fixation when there are so many other options?” she asked.
“When we see something easy to understand, we will jump on it,” said Schindler, who hopes to proclaim 2017 as the start of a “golden age of ad verification” thanks to the many sophisticated new tools and data analysis methods available to enhance understanding of the ad exposure life cycle. Inskin teamed up with Sticky, which makes eye-tracking technology, for its latest research report, for example. But the tools in this market need to be simplified in order for them to be more useful to advertisers, he said. “I think the crowded data landscape will mean ‘data curation’ becomes more important in the next few years.”
“Let’s not make the jargon put us off,” stated Lodhia in agreement. “We have so many tools accessible to us, we just need to train our staff and ourselves to make sure we are delivering the best results.”
Presenting the client’s perspective on click fixation, Herbert Lam, head of digital marketing Asia for Sun Life Financial insurance company, said: “To be honest, at times I don’t know if coming to the website is part of it. We look at the journey and sometimes it’s not about that goal.” He questioned whether instead of acting as a teaser to lead a customer to a brand’s website, perhaps ads should in fact give all the information needed there and then—they can still be deemed a success as long as they make the brand register with the consumer, even for a minimal time period. “There’s almost a belief that someone who clicks is an active participant. No click doesn’t mean [an ad has] failed. Later on they might remember it. It's that passive awareness we’re trying to build—the long term play is all about that.”
Moving on from the clicks, better education and a more thorough understanding of the intricacies of today’s industry remained an overarching theme to the panel’s discussion.
When the speech about “crappy media supply chains” by Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief brand officer, made headline news, said Deric Wong, CEO of OMD Hong Kong, they had 80 clients demanding ‘tell us we are safe’. "Today we are still educating our clients about the tech step, the middle-men who provide tech to help brands protect their ad investment. The more you pay, so the better the tech gets. The mustiness comes from people who don’t really understand how the whole business works.”
Similarly, said Schindler, the industry should invest in much more in-depth research about brand safety before rushing in with a zero tolerance policy towards ads appearing in inappropriate locations. “Brand safety seems intuitively like a good thing, nobody would question that. But there’s a very limited understanding from a research perspective of how quickly an association is built between media context and ad perception. It’s a fair comment to want to minimise the risk to 0 percent but ad exposure is mostly incidental. We have to invest more in understanding how perceptions are built. I think when we talk about brand safety, let’s ask a few key questions as to whether we really understand the topic before we go all in.”
Wong made a final call for greater understanding on another topic, saying now is the time to look deeper than ever into consumer behaviour. “If you think you know them, ask yourself how much data do you have on them, because tomorrow’s world will be internet related and [in everything]. Your table might be able to cook your meal, there’ll be smart cars, etcetera.” With so many everyday objects becoming connected, he thinks, there will be much greater opportunity for the collection of data—and the industry must be prepared to know what to do with it.