Understand the uses and limitations of advertising analytics
Ads are carefully cultivated to appeal to a company's specific audience. They are used to establish a brand identity in the minds of consumers or to promote a certain product or service. You can create the most creative and enticing ad possible, but without viewability analytics, you may never be able to quantify its success. Viewability is the metric used to track impressions; ie, a consumer seeing an ad. It is the most common analytic used to qualify an ad as successful, since the logical assumption is that the higher the number of impressions, the more people who could potentially act upon the ad's call to action. However, many marketers have found an issue with the viewability metric used by many platforms, such as Facebook, due to the inability to translate impression data into evidence of relationship-based interactions. The ultimate goal of your ad should go beyond viewability and instead aim to cultivate an emotional and individualized relationship between your brand and the dentist.
The Problem with Viewability
An issue that has come to the forefront of the online marketing world is the controversial Viewable Impression Standard that was put forth by the Media Ratings Council (MRC) in 2015. According to the MRC, a digital static image ad is considered viewable if 50% of the ad is seen for at least one second. A digital video ad is considered viewable if 50% of it is seen for at least two seconds. That baseline for an impression is not a definition many want to subscribe to nor is it something around which they want to base their budget. Many platforms charge per impression, meaning that this easily reachable baseline can quickly drain a marketer's campaign budget. It is impossible for an ad to make any level of lasting impression upon a consumer if only half of it is seen in the blink of an eye.
Moving Beyond Viewability
Situating viewability as the end goal of an ad ignores the three different groups of consumers who interact with your ad. The first continues scrolling, the second stops to view the ad fully, and the third completely engages with it by clicking through to your website. This second group is frequently overlooked when viewing an ad's analytics. Impressions cover the entirety of potential consumers, while link clicks only focus on the last group. Establishing a baseline for a successful ad on engagement instead of basic viewability can help increase budget effectiveness as your ad will receive the ideal level of interaction that you pay for. One way of moving beyond viewability and focusing instead on engagement is to implement time-based metrics that will measure how long a clinician actively looks at an ad, which would be the happy medium between basic viewability and click-through percentages.
The Viewability of Facebook Ads
Facebook is one of the most popular platforms to place paid ads, as the average user spends approximately 35 minutes a day scrolling through their feed. Facebook provides data for the number of impressions (times an ad has been viewed) and reach (number of people who have seen the ad), but those numbers ultimately do not mean very much. Even if Facebook says an ad has made 2,000 impressions, the full ad has only been seen for a minimum of about 16 minutes, total.
To determine the actual viewability of an ad, the Facebook team recommends using one of their recommended third-party viewability verification partners. Using Facebook alone does not allow you access to data detailing the mid-level consumers who engage with an ad, but do not click on it. This data would be highly beneficial to an ad campaign, as it could be utilized to edit campaigns based on the ratio of actual views to clicks instead of one-second views to clicks.
As illustrated by Facebook's viewability limitations, it is the responsibility of marketers to optimize ads to ensure the highest viewability and engagement possible. Utilizing the analytics that are available from Facebook, third-party viewability verification companies, or automated marketing platforms will allow you to intuitively design campaign strategies based around your audience's behaviors. Getting a dentist to spare their time and engage with an ad may seem tricky, but backed by proper analytics, you can make any ad engaging.
About the Author
Terry Fine is President of AMG Creative in Fort Collins, Colorado.