Digital advertising offers brands and advertisers a hedonistic mix of promise and opportunity, providing unparalleled access to consumers on a scale – and at a speed – that marketers of yesterday could only have dreamed of.
It also offers creative opportunities constrained only by the imagination, and targeting so accurate that it is possible to serve an ad contextually to the right consumer at the very moment they are in exactly the frame of mind to absorb the message.
But with this vast opportunity comes the task of measuring the success of these highly advanced, complex advertising campaigns. In such a fast-moving industry, this can be taxing – especially when new and exciting metrics, such as attention, are constantly progressing the game.
Clearly, choosing the right mix of metrics to measure the performance of ad campaigns is critical, and supplementing traditional performance measurements (such as clicks) with a metric such as ‘brand lift’ will provide a truly holistic picture of how campaigns are impacting upon brands and sales.
Brand lift: What is it…?
Digital advertising largely functions on the historical misconception that an ad only impacts its viewer if that person demonstrably interacts with the campaign via an action, such as a click. The advent of attention as a metric is slowly changing this notion, but it’s still the case that measurement is weighted toward consumer response via a measurable action.
The problem here is that, in reality, we all regularly absorb information from adverts without physically interacting with them. For example, a soft drink brand might advertise a new flavour that you didn’t know existed, or an ad for Disney World might lead you to consider the theme park for your next summer holiday. While both of these ads make an impression, without a physical response, such as a click, it’s very difficult to prove the impact these ads have on us.
That’s where brand lift comes in, quantifying the impact a campaign has in the critical mid-funnel part of the sales journey – the consideration stage.
…and why do you need it?
Why is this important? Well, a lack of mid-funnel data means you will always be wanting for information about the success of your campaigns in terms of brand building, both in the short and long term. Research shows that long-term sales success relies on building a strong brand, and much of this work is done in the mid-funnel.
Brand lift is so important because it provides a simple means of measuring the effect of a campaign on certain key brand KPIs, without which you can’t build a holistic picture of the success and impact of your advertising campaigns. Put simply, if you don’t know how your adverts affect the perception of your brand, you will find it harder to build and grow long-term sales.
Top tips for starting with brand lift
It’s easy to get going with brand lift, but there are a few hard-and-fast rules that help brands make the most of the metric. The first rule is to keep it simple. Brand lift should focus on collecting the minimum data needed to assess a campaign’s effect. For every campaign, just a few key metrics – such as awareness, consideration, preference and action intent – are all that is required.
Secondly, brands should be consistent with their testing. Make sure the small amount of data harvested is collected across as many campaigns as possible, and the more campaigns that can be measured, the better, because this provides a large cache of data to analyse.
Remaining independent is also really important. If brand lift is going to become part of a brand’s regular measurement currency, it is crucial they aren’t analysing their own data. Some platforms do measure their own campaigns, but it’s never a good idea to mark your own homework.
And finally, the real benefit of frequent brand lift measurement is being able to feed back learnings into future campaigns. Such an approach is at the heart of performance marketing.
Simple, consistent and regular
Brands undertaking brand lift measurement will gain a greater idea of how their brand is perceived, and how advertising affects it – and the understanding of both these factors is critical.
Brand lift also provides mountains of data that can be used to enable meta-analysis around key marketing themes and hypotheses, and can be very useful in building a more holistic view of how advertising is building the brand – providing marketers with greater control of the direction of their company and its sales.
Sean Adams is global insight director at Brand Metrics.