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Google Looks at New Frontiers in Display Advertising Measurement

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Ari Paparo, Google Director of Product Management, today looked at how better data will help marketers plan and measure their display campaigns in the future. His post appeared on the Official Google Blog.

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Paparo wrote, "Imagine an ad agency tasked with planning and measuring a campaign for a new male cologne (specially endorsed by a famous DJ). The ideal target audience is males aged 18-35 who are interested in dance music, well-groomed and who think they're hip."

Using tools like DoubleClick Ad Planner, he said it's possible today to find popular U.S. sites that are read by males aged 18-35 who are interested in dance music or who have previously visited the DJ's website. Media planners can also add in terms like "clubs," "nightlife", "sample sale" and "fashion" into Ad Planner's search term correlator to find sites whose users are more likely to search for those terms, as measured across large quantities of data.

Paparo then said,"Looking forward, what if the agency could seamlessly click a checkbox to pull in site performance data from that same client's last ad campaign? The planner could rank the sites in the media plan that produced the best results for the last campaign. And what if the agency could click another checkbox to select recommended high-performing sites in the Google Content Network that offer above the fold placements and that fall within the client's budget and targeting criteria, then buy them with a click of the button in AdWords?"

Cool.

For a long time, display advertisers have used fairly simple measures like clicks, impressions or conversions -- not that there's anything wrong with that. These are great metrics for some types of marketing campaigns. But not for all of them.

Not every ad campaign is looking to deliver an immediate sale. Lots of ad campaigns -- like the hypothetical one for cologne -- are designed to influence opinions, spread buzz or build brand associations. For these campaigns, measuring clicks is like trying to judge a candidate after watching him or her for a few minutes.

Paparo revealed that Google is developing new measurement products designed to gauge the impact of ads on brand awareness or on user interest in the product being advertised. Using the cologne example, advertisers can use Google's new tool called Campaign Insights to reliably measure the "brand lift" directly attributable to the display campaign. This measurement tool looks at two large groups of users. The first group has seen the ad, and the second hasn't. It then compares the volume of searches and website visits to measure how awareness of the brand has improved as a result of the display ad campaign.

Paparo also speculated on other measurement tools that may be possible. He asked, "What if the agency could use an even larger real-time focus group like, say, the entire Internet? It could include social features in the ad, and then, by parsing public reactions -- tweets, blog posts, status updates, YouTube comments and more -- measure, in real time, how the Internet is responding to the cologne and the ad. This could give them an immediate, quantifiable view into the reactions and views of its potential consumers, and measure the viral effect of the ad over time."

He had me at "public relations."

But wait! There's more!

Paparo asked, "What if the agency could precisely measure the impact of the campaign -- not just on increased web traffic, searches or online comment -- but (using geographical signals) on the actual purchases of their cologne in local stores? Imagine the possibilities -- display ad campaigns could even communicate with the advertiser's supply chain or inventory system."

These innovations in measurement are fascinating, but what's really revolutionary is what will happen when they're combined. Said Paparo, "In the future, campaign measurement will take place in near real-time, creating an almost immediate feedback loop. Currently, the process is very linear -- marketers plan their campaign, then buy ad space, then run their campaign, then measure the results, often with weeks in between."

He added, "Soon, measurement will become truly dynamic and will feed into the planning process itself. Agencies and advertisers will be able to test multiple creatives and media plans, and immediately tweak them to deliver the best-performing ads and reach the optimal sites and audiences as measurement data starts to come in."

He concluded, "We're on the cusp of a data renaissance in display ad planning and measurement. It promises to vastly improve online advertising for marketers, while resulting in ads that people find more relevant and effective. And by attracting new advertisers with more valuable ads, it will help online publishers earn more money from their online content."

Amen to that, brother. Amen.

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