Point of View
Digital blind spots fall into two broad categories:
Let’s tackle each of these in turn to understand the nature of the blind spot in more detail, to assess whether the blind spot is shrinking, to see what can be done to improve our vision, and to maximize the chances of brand-building success.
Why do people leap blindly when so much money is at stake? There are several arguments used to justify not deploying pre-launch research of any kind for digital marketing–most are spurious.
Without pre-testing, the digital blind spot keeps growing when it should be shrinking. Testing techniques are available both early in the process and at the last minute that can help inform and develop. Our own new LinkNow for Digital solution can deliver simple, validated, helpful, and easy-to-understand results in as little as six hours to improve digital display, video, Facebook, or mobile ads.
With a much greater share of overall media dollars, digital needs to reduce risk and deliver firmer guarantees of a strong return on marketing investment. Optimizing behavioral response to a campaign that is actually ineffective by any other measure is a huge opportunity cost.
One could argue that this digital blind spot has been shrinking as more sophisticated behavioral metrics have become available and hungry programmatic engines feed on them and optimize in real-time. While some progress is being made, much of it is based on the assumption that behavioral metrics can be good indicators of overall campaign success, which is simply not the case.
While campaign reports once focused on click rates, these increasingly sophisticated reports are now enhanced with interaction rates, engagement rates, likes, shares, and many other behavioral metrics. However, despite their prevalence and apparent simplicity, all commonly used behavioral metrics have significant limitations. The bottom line is that none of them are replacements for attitudinal metrics (brand awareness, associations, or purchase intent) that are very often the brand’s primary campaign objective (see table here).
Perhaps the biggest overall problem with behavioral metrics in isolation is that they represent the actions of a tiny fraction of the overall campaign audience. Brand response is typically 30 times larger than click-through response (generating awareness shifts of three percent vs. average click through of 0.1 percent). A strong brand response campaign may look weak judged solely on behavioral metrics, and optimization based on behavior alone could actually make it less effective than otherwise.
So what are the biggest areas to which behavioral metrics are blind?
Attitudinal metrics enable digital marketing to be measured using the same currency as TV, outdoor, and print in a way that likes and shares simply do not. These powerful attitudinal metrics can also now be captured in real-time during campaigns. Our own Brand Lift Insights solution (formerly AdIndex) delivers dashboard reporting that allows brand-based optimization after just two weeks of an online campaign.
Brands looking to minimize potentially damaging digital blind spots should establish systematic pre-testing and in-market evaluation programs incorporating attitudinal metrics. As part of these programs, efforts should be made to understand how behavioral and attitudinal metrics interrelate and complement one another. This complete picture will enable brands to launch better campaigns and optimize effectively once they are live.