Content and personalisation are two of the biggest factors influencing campaign performance, with recent research from Google Media Lab showing that creative quality, relevancy and personalisation are responsible for 70% of campaign success, with other factors including format, publisher and media targeting making up rest.

The latest content personalisation and ad serving technology has made it easier for advertisers to create and run high-impact, personalised campaigns and reap performance increases from digital advertising investments by up to 10 times*, measured through engagement and post-view or click actions.

However, for creative and personalisation to be effective, the advertisement has to be seen by its target audience. This takes us on to one of the biggest issues facing digital advertising today: viewability.

According to recent research by Meetrics and eMarketer, average viewability rates across display, video and mobile are around 50%, meaning that on average, half of all media bought by advertisers is never seen.

The good news is that it’s now possible to get an independent report on viewability, analyse how both viewable and non-viewable ads affected campaign performance, and what content had the biggest impact.

The ‘why’ and ‘how’

The trends are very clear. Viewable ads improve performance by an average of six times, whilst the inclusion of personalised and high-impact interactive content boosts performance again, by up to an additional four times*. It is only by including viewability and tracking performance at a content level that we can start to understand why and how people engaged with a brand’s digital ads, instead of simply focusing on how many people have seen it.

Despite brands investing in both personalisation and high-impact creative, in most cases, creative performance isn’t being split out or measured as a separate KPI (Key Performance Indicator). And whilst brands using high-impact creative and personalisation would expect to see a lift in click-through rate (CTR) and a reduction in Cost per Action (CPA), without precise creative metrics in play, it’s difficult for marketers to decipher exactly where any new performance originated from.

This becomes even more complex when agencies use combined performance metrics to demonstrate effectiveness and uplift. Whilst many combined performance metric strategies make sense from a media perspective, they rarely factor in what impact the creative had, or whether a brand’s investment into personalisation has paid off. Until brands adopt multi-touch attribution (MTA) and marketing mix modelling (MMM) for measuring success, media performance reports are unlikely to provide the level of insight brands require to make informed decisions about the creative and ad serving strategies.

A holistic view

Using MTA models enables advertisers to measure and attribute value to each customer touch point leading to a conversion, and where possible, what content was shown at each point. This provides valuable insight into which marketing channel(s), campaign(s) and content should be credited to a conversion, with the ultimate intention of allocating future spend and serving the best performing content.  

Having a holistic view of what elements of an overall campaign worked, and to what degree, is not only valuable but critical in informing future campaigns. Encouragingly, a recent poll by the IAB and the Winterberry Group found almost 60% of marketing and media practitioners expect to engage cross-channel measurement and attribution this year. Brands that do this will lead the way in campaign planning, able to gain clear insights into which campaigns, and which content within those campaigns, drove performance and delivered ROI.

Moving forward, effective performance measurement needs to be considered as part of the bigger picture – ultimately if the creative is poor, or targeted ineffectively, then no amount of people seeing the ad will help the marketers achieve their objectives.