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It's time for banner advertising to get the attribution it deserves

New technologies and attribution techniques can help improve and prove the impact of the internet’s stalworth advertising format.

According to the most recent full-year UK IAB report banner advertising accounted for 31% of all digital ad spend in 2017 – equating to £27.2bn. So far so good for those on the supply side: SSP's, publishers and networks.

However, according to Wolfgang Digital, the banner format drives less than 1% of all online sales in the ecommerce sector. Furthermore, compared to the KPIs of other advertising channels, banner advertising’s other key metrics – such as brand recall at 6% – are also low. Seemingly not so good for those on the demand side: primarily brands, retailers and agencies.

If the metrics are that binary why do retailers, brands and agencies continue to apportion such a large percentage of their ad budget into this channel as oppose to say paid search which drives 20% of retail sales?

The first answer is that banner advertising has always had a broader job to do than just drive sales; like its offline counterparts in print and OOH, digital banner campaigns create awareness, position the brand, push key marketing messages and drive affinity, as well as performance.

The second is that even with existing metrics, banner advertising – supported by strong creative and focused campaign targeting – still provides good ROI in revenue terms even if the percentages look weaker than other channels.

However, given the range of obstacles brand and prospecting banner ads have to overcome to claim a transaction, it’s a miracle they perform as they do.

Like a salmon swimming upstream, in between creating awareness with a consumer at the top of the acquisition funnel and driving a transaction, banner advertising has to deal with natural hazards like user behaviours and attribution rules, all of which chip away at the contribution banner advertising makes.

There are also logistical and practical issues which – until now – have also made it hard to drive full value for banner campaigns. Problems like:

  • How to drive attribution/prove value for the 90+% of banner ads which are viewed but not clicked?
  • How to deal with multiple campaign creatives and audiences without having to create multiple high-bounce landing pages?
  • How to ensure a consistent user experience from acquisition to engagement in a way which retains the consumer?

With more pressure on agencies and networks than ever before to prove the value of banner advertising, getting the answers right can have a substantial impact on both campaign performance and client ROI.

It is well known that improving top-of-funnel website metrics materially impact downstream conversion:

  • For every 10% reduction in bounce there can be a sales increase of 15% (e.g. a bounce rate of 40% reduced to 36% can drive sales uplift by 6%).
  • A 16% increase in time on site can lead to a 10% sales increase.
  • Brands with good advertising recall rates (consumers who remember seeing a brand ad) can nearly double the chances of a successful sale from 37% to 65%.

At Ve, we have long believed that banner advertising can and does contribute more than it is credited with and evaluated on.

To that end we have recently introduced a new solution for brands and agencies to help drive the performance and attribution of banner campaigns: Product unification.

Product unification is a new patent-pending solution, which seamlessly connects banner campaigns with a dynamic onsite engagement tool. The tool, Digital Assistant, understands both the source of traffic and a consumers’ engagement with a display campaign and uses this to provide the most appropriate engagement message.

Post-view interactions can now be identified and catered for and highly targeted campaigns can now be served through a single onsite tool which means you can say goodbye to hundreds of low-quality, low traffic landing pages.

The net effect can be up to a 70% improvement in core brand outcomes on existing spend. Better customer retention and engagement, higher brand recall and better outcomes for both agencies and clients.

As digital spend continues to increase, it’s time for brands to take control of their digital advertising fate. Both those on the demand side and supply side must seize control of their advertising budgets and focus on achieving maximum efficiency for every ad, whether that be on a post-click or post-view basis. The traditional attribution model must be turned on its head to make way for the future of digital advertising.


Regardless of whether you run digital advertising with our in-house DSP or use a third party, we can help you connect any paid advertising to your onsite experience. Find out more about product unification and how it can help you get more from your existing advertising spend.

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Posted by David Marrinan-Hayes

CEO of Ve Global