Online backlash grows yet top brands fail to take stand

online measurement 1Concerns over the online ad industry’s overall level of measurement are growing, with the majority of the world’s largest advertisers saying they are “dissatisfied” with current standards, yet most admit they are still committed to increasing their spend in 2017-18 – some by as much as 40%.
This unwillingness to take a stand is exposed in a study by the World Federation of Advertisers and Ebiquity into the intentions and concerns of the top 50 global advertisers, with an annual adspend of more than $80bn (£73.3bn).
But while two-thirds plan to increase spend, 21% indicate they will cut back, and 12% expect to maintain the same levels of investment in 2018.
Performance-focused advertisers were most likely to boost spend, with 48% predicting increases compared to just 18% for brand advertisers.
Advertisers are making these investments despite strong concerns around their ability to track performance, with 62% of respondents reporting that they are ‘dissatisfied’ with the overall level of measurement standards in online advertising, and only 45% clearly seeing the value it adds.
What’s more, 72% of those polled believe that advertisers have over-invested in the channel. Key concerns remain viewability (90% of respondents see this as a ‘major concern’) and lack of transparency (76%).
Online video will be the main beneficiary of any increased spend, with 89% of advertisers intending to invest more this year. The reason is that 79% of branding/awareness advertisers say that video delivers a ‘high effect’, significantly better performance than static display. Some 46% of respondents plan to cut back on static display in 2017, with more than half saying the format delivers a ‘low effect’.
The main motivations behind investing in digital advertising are to drive incremental reach (a major role in the decision to invest for 79%) and to increase brand awareness (69%). Despite the increased targeting potential that programmatic can provide, ‘precise targeting’ is a major factor in the decision to invest in digital for just 55%.
The three ‘priority’ metrics for respondents are reach (72%), target audience exposure (66%) and video completion rates (62%). As such, the metrics in use tend to relate more to exposure rather than effectiveness.
Meanwhile ‘premium inventory’ is found to be more effective than non-premium for 62% of respondents and even though advertisers are remain unconvinced about the effectiveness of digital advertising, 75% are willing to accept the challenges it presents.
Ebiquity chief strategy officer Nick Manning said: “Online advertising is clearly here and here to stay – it’s the present and the future. But our survey results show that advertisers are not convinced by current measurement standards. Respondents demonstrate strong support for recent public calls by Marc Pritchard of Procter & Gamble and others for higher standards in independent measurement and verification in online advertising. Advertisers also want a better understanding of how online contributes to their business performance and how it delivers meaningful return on investment.”

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