How to successfully challenge your programmatic media measurement

Pete HanfordInfectious Media’s Head of Sales, Pete Hanford, shares his insight and advice on programmatic media measurement.


Last week, I was told by one of Europe’s largest brands that their board has a weekly display KPI that they track:  volume of impressions. I almost spat out my tea in amazement.  For someone like me who has built my career in digital, I found this amazing in a day and age where data targeting is king. How can board level be so archaic?  I wonder if the other KPI that they look at is how many “hits” their website had.

Despite its many benefits, data-driven programmatic buying has been challenging to advertisers.  From understanding and navigating this complex ecosystem, to lack of transparency, increased viewability, fraud, creative and data sources- the list is on-going.

But I’m pretty certain measurement and attribution is the most common challenge and topic of discussion amongst advertisers, whatever stage of evolution they are at.

The fact that digital allows advertisers to attribute their activity in a more robust manner in comparison to traditional media is a huge opportunity.  Now that we are 20+ years into digital, there are constant challenges to make activity work because last click rarely stacks up.

This leaves advertisers asking “How can I measure the upper funnel?”

Most of the digital directors I have met agree that last or post click is an irrelevant measure for display as a channel. Nearly all studies show that display is higher up in the buying funnel.  But they are almost always hamstrung to do anything about it as last click is what digital has been built on. Budget allocation is a tough task as internal reporting is always on a last click model.

The tools are now available to evolve beyond last click attribution. They range from a basic conversion path analysis, to rules-based & algorithmic attribution modelling.  But it seems like the board level are still off the pace. They need to become willing to change the way they measure programmatic advertising. Otherwise, digital marketers are going to struggle to move the needle in the upper funnel.

The board level needs a reason to change and this is often down to bottom of the funnel saturation. However, now digital marketers have the tools and data to prove the worth of their activity internally.  So, I take my hat off to the digital marketers, agencies and brands that are doing something about this challenge from the clients.

If you are motivated to change, my advice would be to use your data, test everything, and analyse incrementality. Change is possible if you offer the insight back to your business to help evolve measurement.

This won’t solve everything and it starts to get more complicated when you begin considering buying influence from non-digital and non-measurable factors.  Even though there’s no silver bullet in measurement, your business will not move forward if you just use last click.