The native ad market is getting more crowded, and advertisers are starting to demand to know that their ads actually work. Enter the performance guarantee.
Forbes is applying the same money-back promise it once made for display ads to its native ad product, BrandVoice. Advertisers have to spend $250,000 in native plus display over 60 days (up from the minimum BrandVoice package of $150,000). If they don’t get a lift in at least one of four metrics (awareness, favorability, recall, purchase intent), they get their money back. The advertiser gets to pick the vendor to measure the campaign’s impact.
Of course, the money-back guarantee shtick is marketing. Forbes seems to know how to control the risk of its guarantees. It introduced its original display ad guarantee in 2002 to address doubts about the effectiveness of display ads. It ran with more 100 campaigns over several years until Forbes stopped offering it around 2010. Mark Howard, Forbes’ chief revenue officer, said Forbes only had to issue one refund, to a financial advertiser. It was in 2008, at the height of the financial meltdown.
Howard said the guarantee was a response to the market’s desire for accountability as well as the increased competition. Other publishers charge for native based on views (and at least one, the Daily Mail, guarantees views), and there have been performance guarantees on print ads, but Forbes believes its promise is a first for native.
“We’ve done these guarantees in the past,” he said. “Print was still the lead and we had to do something that would get marketers’ attention. It’s core to who we are. We have this study that shows the combination of branded content and display is very powerful, and in talking to potential BrandVoice partners, a lot of times the question came up: ‘How will we know if BrandVoice is going to move the needle?’”
“It does raise the bar,” said Greg Smith, head of digital investment at MEC. “It’s a great selling point.”
How the guarantee is measured raises some questions, though, said Andy Seibert, managing partner of Imprint, a custom content firm that’s part of branding agency Sullivan. How frequently the advertiser posts to BrandVoice will clearly impact its scores.
“They’re introducing a guarantee into the conversation is probably very welcome, but the qualification around what that means is probably going to be a little fuzzy,” said Seibert, who is also chairman of The Content Council, a trade association for content marketers.
Forbes also doesn’t guarantee how much the lift will be. Howard said the guaranteed increase will be determined by what the measurement vendor says is “statistically stable.” But Forbes is managing its risk by requiring that advertisers run at least seven posts during the campaign and that $150,000 of the spending goes to display, $100,000 to native ads, with the measurement running across all of it.
Forbes’ sales staff has just started selling the new guarantee, so it hasn’t gotten any takers yet. It’s targeting existing and prospective clients. BrandVoice campaigns (which are a mix of native and display) represents 35 percent of Forbes’ advertising revenue, but the publisher still sees a lot of room to grow there.
Image courtesy of Forbes.
Spotify cancels six true crime podcasts amid layoffs, Gimlet-Parcast merger
Spotify is canceling six shows and laying off 200 people as it merges its Gimlet and Parcast units to push its podcast business towards profitability.
As AI spreads across the marketing landscape, data’s role will be key to success or danger
There’s a growing awareness of the risks inherent in AI's ultra-powerful potential, but whether enough steps are being taken to mitigate them remains a huge question mark.
‘Not the future’: European publishers remain steadfast in blocking alternative IDs to third-party cookies
Some European publishers believe alternatives to the third-party cookies, probabilistic or deterministic, will do more harm than good to their ads businesses.
SponsoredWhat the measurement and currency discussion really means to TV advertisers
Ali Mack, head of TV and agency, Experian Major streaming video providers have recently made headlines by adopting new currencies for ad measurement, threatening Nielsen’s long-standing TV ratings monopoly. NBCUniversal, for example, has certified iSpot and VideoAmp as currencies for advanced audiences and formed the Joint Industry Committee with Paramount, TelevisaUnivision and Warner Bros. Discovery. […]
Media Briefing: Why Leaf Group spun off its media arm into a standalone company
World of Good's newly appointed CEO Lindsey Abramo spoke with Digiday about her plans to lean into experiential and embrace niche vs. scale.
Dentsu’s latest ad report shows slowed growth, driven mostly by inflation
The good news in Dentsu's ad forecast is that there's still growth. The bad news: most of the growth is the result of inflation, while real ad pricing actually dropped a bit.