Advertisers want consistent and easy to understand reporting

The raft of new technology innovations such as ad exchanges, ad networks and demand side platforms (DSPs), as well as in-house sales teams are all having a major impact on shaping the way we perceive the buying, selling, and reporting of advertising space.

There is one problem though. Among these changes, there is no consistency in the way in which the buying and selling of advertising space is reported, making it difficult to understand the true value and performance of the advertising space.

For instance, different ad exchanges, ad networks and DSPs will buy and sell advertising space according to different metrics. When they report to the advertiser they typically have a set of standard metrics they might report on, but essentially they will try to provide additional value by incorporating some of their own bespoke metrics. These discrepancies across platforms and sales houses make life difficult for advertisers and can be confusing because they rarely allow like with like comparisons.

So, let’s look at a few examples of what advertisers are looking for from a digital reporting perspective that will help make life easier for them.

Reporting that’s aligned with other standards

The online marketing world could be criticised for inventing new metrics simply to differentiate itself. Although, in doing this it fails to measure and report in a coherent and familiar way to advertisers: for example, in the past several years to measure online advertising effectiveness metrics like CPMs, click-throughs and conversions have been used. But this is not the language advertisers speak, nor are these metrics aligned with other channel metrics.

Advertisers are interested in campaign reach across their audience as well as the number of times people see their campaigns. In essence, they demand insight into reach, engagement and audience data. Reporting needs to fall in line with this.

Something better than CPM

In particular, the most common metric used, namely CPM (Cost Per Thousand), is misaligned with advertiser requirements. CPM actually measures how many impressions are delivered from the ad server, not how many viewers actually saw the ad. The new measure coming to the fore is the CPMV – or Cost Per Thousand Viewed –, and it is set to help solve the problem I’ve mentioned.

“Dwell time” will play an increasingly important role in reporting

Another key measure that needs to be incorporated into reporting metrics is a measure that shows how long visitors view an advertiser’s ad for, and which gives them a true reflection of campaign engagement – something advertisers need in order to justify spend. We call this a Dwell Index.

The complexity (and required development work) of the Dwell Index can vary from simple “impression dwell time” (how long the ad was live) to “actual In-view time” (how long the ad was above-the fold and without another application in front of the browser).

Show your advertisers how your audience is behaving

Measuring audience behaviour is critical. It’s important to be able to show advertisers the behavioural attributes of people seeing each campaign. This information forms the basis for justifying and proving the value of the audience to the advertiser.

Notably, this also can be fed back into your behavioural targeting solution for further targeting, and you will be able to drill down to any level of detail to see how different audiences act on the site based on whatever measures you have in your site analytics.

Start to put effort into the reporting of micro landing sights

Increasingly publishers sell ads in micro landing sights. Traditionally this has never been properly incorporated into reports because it takes up resources to firstly develop reporting around micro landing sites, and secondly to consolidate the reports. But, as technology becomes more advanced, advertisers will begin to expect reporting around micro sites and so publishers need to factor this into their reporting.

Less is more

For some publishers it can feel like a nightmare to keep up with all the trends that are taking place across the digital sector.

Often organisations are encouraged to spend more and more on technology to help ensure they keep up with the competition. This is not always necessary. It’s more important to take a step back and to evaluate the business’s current situation, where it’s headed and to then consolidate and adapt (or refine) elements of the technology accordingly.

For example, too few publishers are aware that they can solve some of their reporting problems by simply integrating ad servers and analytics solutions (which already exist) – this will help them avoid implementing costly business intelligence and data warehousing solutions.

If publishers take this as a first step, they may find that the technology they use is actually good enough to help them deliver better reporting for their advertisers and publishing teams, and that by making a few minor business process adjustments they will be able to achieve more in a cost effective way.