How should mobile ad effectiveness be measured?

IAB UK Mobile Steering GroupIAB UK recently launched National Anti Click-Through Rate Day, to highlight the industry’s over-reliance on vanity metrics for measuring digital ad effectiveness. This light-hearted message underlined a more serious need for advertisers to move away from CTR, which only provides a very narrow view on campaign success. To support this message, the IAB released a Measurement Toolkit, to help support advertisers as they transition to more robust effectiveness metrics.

The IAB Measurement Toolkit consolidates current best practices and provides guidance on measuring digital advertising in the context of other media. It sets out the main models and techniques that can be used to measure digital advertising, from big picture approaches (e.g. econometrics) to more granular analysis (e.g. attribution modelling), showing how they fit together and how to use them. The guide concludes with a set of practical templates and checklists for creating your own measurement strategy.

But in the context of mobile advertising, what does this mean? What practical steps can you take to explore other media metrics with your campaigns?

To explore this theme more fully, we asked members of the IAB Mobile Steering Committee for their views. Hopefully the views below will allow you to avoid becoming, in the IAB’s own words “a clickhead”.

Lorna White, Digital Associate Director, Mediacom
“Digital has always been its own worst enemy in the sense that if we can measure something, we do. CTRs seem to be the simplest and the easiest to understand, as well as a quick way to deliver consistencyof measurement, comparing all formats on a like-for-like basis. Unfortunately, this means that formats and placements have been optimised to clicks, and therefore this becomes the benchmark.”

Lolly Mason, VP Media Partnerships EMEA, Celtra Inc
“What we choose to measure affects our behaviour. Our focus on CTRs has created an environment that rewards and encourages poor behaviour – clickbait, cheap ‘spray and pray’ banner campaigns and intrusive ads generating accidental clicks. We now need to create an environment that supports real-world brand marketing KPIs like awareness, favourability, and purchase intent. Not only will this improve campaign outcomes but also our online experiences. Additionally, CTRs on branding campaigns are statistically insignificant. Optimising and judging performance based on an insignificant fraction of views makes no sense – what did the other 99.99% of users think?”

Caroline Moffat, Digital Development Director, Starcom
“In order for a media campaign to be successful and have an impact on a brands business, we need to start by understanding the desired business outcome. This will then help define the communications objective, followed by media KPIs. Brand lift studies are the most accurate way of knowing whether your campaign has been successful in achieving the goal; be it awareness of a new product launch, or getting your brand on someone’s consideration list. These often use a control and exposed methodology and so understand the impact of the campaign specifically rather than overall brand health. Even if you’re unable to run one study for the overall campaign, many media partners offer free of charge studies based on a minimum volume of impressions.”

Adam Rubach, VP New Market Development, Ogury
“Old habits die hard is perhaps an old cliché, but it fits when our industry has been stuck on the same measurement standards for well over 20 years. CTRs still have their uses, for example in simple A/B testing between the relative performance of two competing creatives for the same campaigns. But beyond that, marketers are selling themselves short if they rely squarely on CTRs, to say the least. The same can be said for Cost Per Install; its easy to get cheap downloads, but without considering post-install engagement, those apps will be just as quickly deleted.”

Finlay Clark, UK Country Manager, Waze
“CTRs are the small minority that want to engage with your brand right now.  But we know that thats only going to be a tiny percentage of the total audience who could engage with your brand at a later date.  Good advertising gets you on that consideration list when someones in market.  If you only put value on the people who do something in the moment, youre constructing success around a very narrow view of the world.”

For further insight into the most appropriate and effective measurement strategies for your campaign, download the IAB Measurement Toolkit at: