Digital ads under the spotlight
Last year Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer and marketer, made a startling demand – that the advertising industry clean up the digital media ecosystem or face losing millions of dollars in revenue from brands like P&G. Problems inherent in digital advertising, such as difficulties with ad fraud and brand safety, had elicited this castigation and Pritchard challenged the industry to drastically step up its game and prove the value and safety of digital. Since that inflection point, hard work has been done to move forward on the issues highlighted. However, while security of brand placement and media validity have been focused on, digital still suffers from a lack of receptivity from consumers as indicated by the prevalence of ad-blocking. One might argue that the problem resides in the fact that, with digital, advertisers just go where the consumers are, but not in a way that ensures impact is greatest. People don’t want to stand to have their surfing interrupted by ads. Pritchard himself highlighted this problem at DMexco last year: “Bottom line, it is time for marketers and tech companies to solve the problem of annoying ads and make the ad experience better for consumers”. Digital display media can often be a jarring addition to content someone is trying to view without distraction. Simply put, the person is not primed to be receptive. In addition, digital media can also lack context in terms of attribution. Ascertaining its influence compared to TV, for example, can be difficult when there’s a disconnect in measurability between the two in terms of a consumer’s path-to-purchase. This can only hinder advertisers’ efforts to make sure they are targeting the right people, with the right message, at the right time and place.
TV ACR: solving for receptivity
So how do brands solve the issues surrounding receptivity? This is where automated content recognition (ACR) technology in TVs is having a huge effect. TV ACR tech, built into millions of Smart TVs across the US, allows brands to understand what content people are actually watching (e.g. whether an ad was seen or not). This, along with being able to anonymously profile device ownership means advertisers can integrate their cross-platform campaigns in an extremely potent way. Viewers of certain TV content can be primed through the emotive power of that medium and then be retargeted online while in a much more receptive state of mind. A study conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation found that the combination of TV+Digital proved strongest in terms of generating ROI for brands, largely due to this ‘priming’ effect.
To boot, being able to link the two platforms means brands can more deterministically explore how both influence subsequent consumer behaviour. Advertisers can jettison old methods of measurement (such as panels) where purchase attribution is concerned, for instance, and instead turn to behavioural models based on a combination of Smart TV, mobile and purchase analytics. In short, they can see for themselves how consumers behave, not simply how they say they do. Accuracy and scale of measurement improves greatly as a result.
To sum up, digital has been asked some serious questions in the recent past and the industry continues to battle to make the kind of progress required by people like Marc Pritchard. However, there are real innovations occurring which are providing a tailwind – not least of all TV ACR technology, which is proving to be an extremely valuable piece of the digital puzzle.