Thursday, November 8, 2012

Calling All Analytics Vendors and Ad Networks

There has been an incredible amount of interest and enthusiasm the effort from across the ad technology stack, evolving into a real grass-roots Viewthrough Measurement Consortium. Many thanks to all those who have taken the time to share their considerable insights, ideas and candid feedback.

Below are some key learnings gathered from throughout this process:
  • Nobody is happy about clickthrough measurement and its inherent biases
  • With the DAA and IAB doing their own thing and the emergence of ad viewability as the latest bright shiny object, viewthrough measurement continues to be looked over
  • Most everyone wants better viewthrough measurement but are unsure how to push this forward on their own
  • Many digital advertising companies across the ad tech stack are already measuring viewthrough but don't necessarily label it viewthrough or they are not breaking it out in their reports today.  
    • Reasons include that it is confusing to clients/agencies that are still focused on last-click attribution; also, that there is that lack of standard definitions, i.e. mention viewthrough and get ready to teach.

It is apparent that analytics and advertising vendors are seeking a meaningful way to report passive display media response. It should be a concern to everyone that many ad networks do not get credit for viewthrough performance today, itself a by-product of slimy performance networks and cookie-stuffing. While the bigger strategy evolves (advocacy, research, standards, best practices), there is a definitely tangible step that is low-cost and be taken today.

Vendors that are already reporting on passive post-exposure response to display media (beyond clickthroughs) ought to consider letting the industry know.Whether it is raw viewthrough visits, a viewthrough rate or viewthrough conversions, now is the time and this is the place.

Below is the current list of vendors known to the Viewthrough Measurement Consortium that provide analytics/reports that specifically containing viewthrough performance:


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Proposed Definition of an Ad Viewthrough

Viewthrough (view-through) is a measure of the passive but self-directed response from paid media (banner, rich media, video or audio). For starters:
  • Scope
    • Post-impression viewthrough follows from one or more ad exposures where there was no click event
    • Although the focus here is on display media, viewthrough or passive response could come from email, affiliate advertising, online PR and "dark" social media
    • Apart from Google's self-serving studies, no independent research validates the notion of a paid search viewthrough
  • Relation to Clickthrough
    • Distinguished from post-click visitation or conversion
  • Measurement
    • Can be a success metric like a conversion, high-value task or a site visit
    • Can be measured by a brand on its' own Web properties through site analytics
    • Can be measured more broadly (competitor/peer site visitation, search, etc...) through panel-based research
    • May be subject to attribution rules, such as first touch, last touch, equal touch or staistically derived techniques
  • Time
    • Is subject to a lookback and lookahead window that is configured by the ad server
    • Viewthrough impact decays over time from the initial ad exposure
  • Calculation
    • The VTR (viewthrough rate) is calculated as # of viewthrough / # of impressions (viewed impressions preferably)
    • Impressions should be based on "viewed" or "viewable" for most accurate measurement
    • In-flight viewthrough are observed during a live ad campaign, while the post-flight viewthrough "vapor-trail" can be observed when the campaign ends or is paused
If you have feedback, please reach out or comment below!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Calls for Viewthrough, Proper Display Attribution Growing

As the digital media and marketing business continues to evolve the interest in passive response from digital display (banners, video and non-search mobile) is growing. Although the banner is almost 20 years old now (born c. 1995) the legacy obsession with click-based response measurement and simplistic attribution is only now beginning to collapse thanks to new tools and better methodologies.'s about time.

Dax Herman who heads-up search-targeted display ad network Chango recently put together an elaborate white paper,  Viewthrough Attribution Exposed: What last Touch Isn't Telling You. I had the opportunity to work with Chango in an ecommerce setting over the past year and found their interest in and approach to meaningful analytics for their near (but not quite) bottom of the funnel ad media refreshing and collaborative.

Recently, Dax asked for my POV on viewthrough measurement which you'll find a snippet of in the white paper; this also led to a recent post, here at the Tip of the Spear Blog: Viewthrough Incrementality Testing. More broadly, we're planning to collaborate with other digital advertising leaders to further viewthrough won't be easy but it needs to happen. Coalition
If you or your company has an interest in viewthrough measurement and attribution please get in touch to learn more about collaborating on the effort; as part of this effort we're looking to work with leading measurement technologies, digital marketers and especially the DAA/IAB to standardize the definition of viewthrough.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Viewthrough & Incrementality Testing

A common question in digital marketing measurement is "what was the lift?" or "what is the incremental benefit?" from a particular promotional campaign. Most of us would agree that the alternative of relying on display ad clicks alone for display response measurement is just wrong. When measuring display media, incrementality testing is absolutely essential to properly gauge the baseline viewthrough effect.

How to Calculate Incremental Cost Borrowing thumbnail

In order to answer this question, a test and control methodology (or control and exposed) should be used, i.e. basic experimental design where a control group is held out that otherwise are identical to the group that is being tested with the marketing message. This is even more important when marketing "up the funnel" where a last click or even last touch measurement from a site analytics platfom will mask impact.

Email marketers have been doing this with their heritage in direct marketing technqiues. It is often pretty straight forward as the marketer knows the entire audience or segment population and holds back a statistically meaningful group; this will enable them to make a general assertion about what the campaign's actual lift or incremental benefit is. Control and exposed can also be done with display media if the campaign is configured properly to split audiences, elimnate overlap and show the control group a placebo ad. Often PSAs (public service ads) are used, which can be found via the AdCouncil.

This technique is routinely used for qualitative research, i.e. brand lift study services like Vizu, InsightExpress, Dynamic Logic and Dimestore. It is the best way to isolate the impact of the advertising; read more about the challenges of this kind of audience research in Prof. Paul Lavrakas study for the IAB.

Calculating Lift and Incrementality

Dax Hamman from Chango and Chris Brinkworth from TagMan were recently kicking around some numbers to illustrate how viewthrough can be measured; some of that TOTSB covered a while back in Standardizing the Definition of Viewthrough For the purposes of this example, clickthrough-derived revenue will be analyzed separately and fractional attribution will not be addressed. In this example, both control and exposed groups are the same size though this can be expensive and is usually unnecessary using statistical sampling.

  • Lift is the percentage improvement = (Exposed - Control)/Control
  • Incrementality is the beneficial impact = (Exposed - Control)/Exposed

In addition to understanding the lift in rates like viewthrough visit rate, conversion rate and yield per impression by articulating incrementality rate the baseline percentage is revealed - it is just the reciprocal of incrementality (100% = incrementality % + baseline %). Incrementality or incremental benefit, can be used to calibrate other similar campaigns viewthrough response - "similar" being the operative word.

Executing an Incrementality Test

PSA studies are simple in concept but often hard to run. Some out there advocate a virtual control, which is better than no control but not recommended. This method does provide a homegenous group from an offline standpoint so if all things being equal TV and circular are running then it is safe to assume both test and control should be exposed to the rest of the media mix equally. ComScore even came up with a clever zero-control predicted metholdology for their SmartControl service.

Most digital media agencies have experience designing tests and setting up ad servers with the exact same audience targeting criteria across test and control. Better ad networks out there encourage incrementality testing and will embrace the opportunity to understand their impact beyond click tracking.

Was this helpful? If so, let me know and I'll share more.