Less than quarter of online ads being measured for brand uplift

IAB: criticised reliance on online ad metrics such as clicks
IAB: criticised reliance on online ad metrics such as clicks

Most brand research for digital campaigns are being carried out by media owners to justify spend, report warns.

Only one in four digital ad campaigns are measured for brand impact, in-depth interviews with senior media agency leaders have revealed.

On Device Research, a marketing effectiveness company, said its findings showed marketers are not applying the lessons of Les Binet and Peter Field’s The Long and the Short of it research when it comes to online ad campaigns.

Less than 25% of all digital campaigns are being measured using brand uplift studies, the study found in interviews with agencies including Dentsu Aegis Network, MediaCom, PHD and Starcom.

Meanwhile, most brand research for digital campaigns are being carried out by media owners to justify spend, as opposed to being independently commissioned research for brand-led strategic planning. 

While larger advertisers are more likely to independently invest in brand research, smaller brands are more likely to rely on research from media owners such as Facebook and Google. The report warns: "When measuring Facebook and Google performance, many marketers are left with little choice but to work with them directly as tagging creative inside these platforms is virtually impossible for independent research vendors."

Brands that more frequently measure digital brand impact and employ the results strategically see higher shifts in brand awareness of up to 20% compared with those that measure infrequently, the report added.

The research captures a common complaint among digital strategists that online advertising metrics, such as clicks, views or "likes", are often misused as optimisation criteria because they are readily available. 

In Campaign’s October feature about the 25th anniversary of the first banner ad being sold, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK chief digital officer Tim Elkington argued that the format’s effectiveness should be measured in the same way as TV.

He said: "If I were watching Coronation Street, and there was an ad in the centre break for yoghurt, I wouldn’t automatically pause the TV and run down to the supermarket to get yoghurt there and then. I would wait until the next time I’m in the supermarket." 

The IAB accused hundreds of advertisers of being "clickheads" in February as part of a campaign for brands to adopt better measurement standards for online advertising. 

The On Device Research report findings were collected from 19 interviews with 19 senior agency leaders between July and October. Interviewees comprised planners and insight specialists, mostly from media agencies.

Alistair Hill, chief executive of On Device Research, said: "While agencies claim that the majority of digital ads are assessed using brand metrics, the majority of campaign measurement reports employ behavioural and delivery metrics such as clicks, 'likes' or video views as brand proxies, despite the fact they have no proven link to brand uplift."

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