The New Multi-Layer KPI / The Anti Yin & Yang

By: Marika Roque

How do you educate clients about conflicting KPIs without causing more confusion? Marika Roque, VP of Media Activation of Nexstar Digital – makes the case for forming truly transparent partnerships.

Clients are clamoring to tap into all the new viewability and engagement data that has become available. Viewability requests are coming in without any Non-Human Traffic verbiage, simple CTR KPIs are being requested for complex digital campaigns, and CTR and completion rates are requested as dual video KPIs despite competing against one another. While we wrap our minds and activations around all of this data, we must partner closer with our clients to focus on strategic KPIs that speak to actual campaign goals and cater to the unique consumer touchpoints within their journey through the marketing funnel.

Don’t forget about NHT.
Viewability has become the industry buzzword since Group M led the Verification and Viewability charge alongside other industry leaders such as IAS, DV, and MOAT. Not only did Group M bring viewability analytics to their clients, they went above and beyond the MRC and redefined it — doubling the defined standard. The MRC defines viewability as 50 percent of pixels in-view for at least one second for display and two seconds for video. Group M requires 100 percent of those pixels to be on screen for the viewability to be billable.

While this move is worth admiring, most of viewability-based conversations are not accompanied by the NHT measurement requirement. WHY? Lin Digital is poised to lead the NHT charge that everyone seems so scared to talk about.

How do you bring up NHT without having clients question past campaigns? Agencies and partners alike are having the same ethical conversation in their minds, but let’s use data to look forward rather than backwards. Let’s add NHT as a primary KPI in a properly priced campaign. Lin Digital wraps MOAT on 100 percent of the impressions that we run through our company. Viewability is a huge driver of consumer demand but NHT and publisher accountability sit at that same level, if not above it. Why are clients quantifying and slapping viewability KPIs on campaigns without realizing that the data could be fraudulent? Why are clients getting upset about a lower CTR when the NHT is 0 and the viewability is through the roof? We need to continue to educate our clients while we strengthen our partnerships with them. We need to help advertisers understand that instead of putting a premium on their campaigns, many of these viewability-centric KPIs are cannibalizing them.

Level the playing field.
Although the MRC has defined viewability, the methodology of getting there hasn’t been standardized. Measurement vendors need to match, but until those methodologies align, clients should wrap the same verification and viewability analytics technology across their full plans. Eliminate the incongruent methodologies to ensure apples to apples comparisons are being made across publishers.

Benchmarks should also be laid out prior to the launch of the campaign. If CTR is the primary KPI, all publishers on the campaign should be held accountable to NHT thresholds measured by the same vendor, or publishers that are either unethical or uneducated could knowingly or unknowingly generate fraudulent data.

Media is taking the hit but what about creative?
Media is taking the hit while we negotiate and standardize new pricing models for the new viewability-centric data. Creative is reactively providing additional interactivity within the ads themselves but let’s move to a more proactive model. Clients should be thinking about their sweet spots in terms of creative length, benchmark engagement, and time spent with the brand/creative. Does the perfect consumer watch your video for 10 seconds? If so, your video should be 10 seconds long. Eliminate the waste and stop there.

Viewability and verification companies are also able to provide creative feedback through analytics such as in-view time, hovers, scroll rate, and (B)usiness (I)ntelligence heat maps for visual feedback pinpointing exactly where those interactions, engagements, and hovers are taking place. If a client has a CTR KPI without a CTA within the creative, the media is being set up to fail. Lin Digital has the ability to provide creative heat maps for all campaigns that are running our MOAT analytics. We can then A/B test creative as well as provide additional creative insight/feedback that goes beyond the standard KPI.

Video – An amazing beast.
Viewability is the most difficult to garner in the video space. Bringing in factors such as sound on, autoplay, and player size can overwhelm the client. Keep it simple by stressing that viewability is the proxy for engagement and if engagement is the goal, time spent is key. For video campaign KPIs, CTR and Completion cannibalize each other. Agencies are paying six figures for production of video assets yet the KPI is the click, which will lead the target consumer away from the branded content. If viewability is any part of the conversation, then the video KPI should be completion. Let’s maximize the time spent with the consumer while they are in the comfort of their own digital content. If CTR is the primary KPI, then viewability percentage should not be such a large part of the conversation. NHT should make its way into the conversation, to ensure that fraud is in check while we hit the client’s goal CTR. If that is achieved, completion and viewability become much less important.

Viewability is a stepping stone towards actual trust and digital accountability, both of which factor into ROI. Viewability and sourcing of traffic accountability are musts, so NHT must sneak into the conversations as we pull the band-aid off and educate our clients. KPIs must also accompany the conversation as we continue to get more sophisticated in our planning, including first party data, etc.  We must also move our KPIs forward, away from just the simple click. Couple that sophistication with sophisticated engagement-based verification KPIs. The click does not take into account any brand lift implications nor does it provide data as to the interaction with your logo in the ad. Let’s not retroactively respond to our clients but instead bring these truths forward to them. Let’s model out how much time people are spending with the brands inside our ad units and then analyze if those are the cookies who are converting later on in the funnel. By educating our clients and prioritizing KPIs that speak to the true goals of the campaign, we can strengthen our partnerships and demonstrate true ROI.