Why Brands Struggle With Web Ads

Brands and retailers are facing a common challenge in the online advertising landscape: expressing the need for more comprehensive and consistent measurement standards and tools.

The challenge lies in the inability to conduct cross-media planning and analysis. Brands need a one-stop shop when it comes to marketing campaigns, meaning a more complete view of campaign performance, with metrics such as ad recall.

“If you think about online ads, the proposition has been proven from a search-advertising perspective and has been less clear for display ads,” said Steve Hasker, president of media products, advertiser solutions at Nielsen. “The metrics in the online advertising marketplace today are things like page views and impressions, which don’t make sense and don’t tell a brand manager about the impact of their campaign online. Even less is made of metrics like click-throughs and other direct-response metrics.”

The second challenge is there is no third-party standard that advertisers, brands and agencies can use to measure and agree on the effectiveness and reach of an online campaign. The publishers have a set of metrics, the brands have a different set and agencies are somewhere in between.

The last part of this threefold challenge in online advertising has to do with display ads not being comparable to the rest of the marketing budget.

“If you think about a brand manger at Unilever or any other brand, they are trying to understand how to spend on their marketing and what role individual types of media play and what they need are comparable metrics across the different types of media,” Hasker said.

To address this challenge of online campaign measurement, Unilever has signed on to use Nielsen’s Campaign Ratings product. Unilever will present some of its findings from Online Campaign Ratings studies in March at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:think 2012 convention in New York.

The company said in a press release that it is looking to improve the process for planning and buying digital media. Unilever hopes to bring more rigorous standards to its online campaigns and consistency to its measurement strategy across a portfolio that includes 40-plus brands, it said in the release.

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