When Choosing a Media Company, Take a Measured Approach

January 7, 2014

By Anto Chittilappilly, MediaPost

In the past, we all assumed the ability of a media supplier to generate ad results was the number-one factor marketers used to evaluate the media companies with whom they do business. But the results of recent surveyby Advertiser Perceptions, Inc. revealed that “aggressive rate deals” are considered more important to typical marketers.

Not surprisingly, the survey has fueled a lot of speculation about what’s driving this shift. What’s the reason for marketers favoring rate deals over results? It’s not because they don’t care about results and ROI, but because many don’t have an accurate and trustworthy cross-channel measurement system in place to understand the true value of their ads, and therefore the ability to optimize their spend accordingly. And when making under-informed media buying decisions, price is a natural fallback.

Let’s use digital media as an example.

Clicks Can’t Measure Influence

While the evolution toward more advanced measurement technologies has been occurring over the past several years, many advertisers still rely on rudimentary metrics such as click-thru rate (CTR), or faulty measurement methodologies such as last click, to evaluate the effectiveness of their digital advertising. Under these methods, any display ad seen but not clicked is treated as waste and is perceived as having no value at all.

However, just because an online ad is viewed but not immediately clicked doesn’t mean it isn’t highly influential in terms of building awareness and consideration for a product or service. If a digital ad seen by prospective customers one day drives them to perform a search for your product the next day that eventually leads to a conversion, shouldn’t it be considered a success? To measure the true value of online channels, marketers need to understand what combination of channels and tactics work most efficiently to create demand, as well as which combinations work most effectively to then convert that demand into conversions or sales.

Better Measurement = Better Decisions

Fortunately, powerful measurement technology exists today that can provide marketers with insight not only into how their display ads have historically performed individually, but also their ROI efficacy in relation to other online elements like search and mobile, and even offline channels like television and print. Such insight enables marketers to evaluate the media companies with whom they do business based on the actual value they deliver, rather than which company offers the best deal.

Understanding the true value of advertising investments starts with first defining the right objectives for your marketing campaigns and then measuring accordingly. For instance, is the goal of your ads to only drive conversions, or to also increase branded keyword searches or drive potential customers to your website for the first time?

Then, with the core objectives defined, marketers can leverage advanced measurement tools to see how their marketing campaigns performed individually and in a cross-channel context, as well as to make more accurate predictions of the impact any potential changes might make to their promotional efforts. For example, through attribution, marketers could identify which attributes (size, creative message, impression frequency, etc.) had the largest impact on specific campaign and ecosystem-wide goals; or discover that reducing online display spend with a particular publisher would likely result in a reduced number of search marketing conversions. These types of insights not only help to inform the actions marketers take, but also help ensure media spend is directed towards those placements and publishers that are delivering the best results.

The same principles apply to offline media as well. With more advanced measurement, marketers can cohesively measure the combined performance of all their marketing efforts, including offline channels and devices.

For more successful media planning and buying, it’s time to move away from flawed metrics. With accurate measurement, marketers benefit from actionable insights that not only maximize investments, but their overall marketing mix.


"When Choosing a Media Company, Take a Measured Approach." Anto Chittilappilly. MediaPost, 01/07/14.

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