Monday, July 29, 2013

Metrics to Success in Native Advertising and Branding

I recently published a blog posting about Native Advertising, and I wanted to follow that post up with some insights and suggestions on how to measure the effectiveness of your Native or Branding efforts.

To start off this post I want to piggy back on the framework that Avinash Kaushik has laid out in his blog post “See, Think, Do…”

He has very eloquently stated 3 things to keep in mind here:

1 – As buyers consider making a purchase there are different stages they move through.
Often this is called the sales funnel – Avinash calls the stages “See, Think, Do”. In the B2B Technology Marketing world we often call them Awareness (learning there is an IT problem), Consideration (identifying technology solutions to fix the problem), Decision (comparing products to solve the problem).

2 – Experiences, interactions, and buyer expectations at each buy stage are different.
The type of content, not so much medium but the focus of the content (how it addresses the pain points of the user) change based on the stage they are in.

3 – Measurements for effectiveness of each marketing element must change.
It only makes sense, that if the interaction and desired learning’s of a user change as they progress through the buy cycle, our measurements of the impact and effectiveness of this interaction need to change too.  Awareness content has a goal, usually reach. Judging it by its ability to covert sales qualified leads is as Avinash says “like judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree”.

So now that we have established that different stages of the buy cycle need to be judged differently, what metrics matter in Native Advertising or other Branding elements?

Reach (of relevant audience) – As outlined in the Avinash post referenced above, are you reaching all the possible buyers of your product? A TechTarget study shows that influence matters, 70% said brand ads influence their purchase, but they must be contextually relevant. How much reach do you get with your current content plan? How much additional reach can a Native or other Brand campaigns bring?

Dwell Time – How long do you capture the attention of your prospect? How long or how much of the content are they consuming?  Keep in mind long dwell time isn’t always the goal. If you are after content clicks a short dwell time but high click rate will show effective messaging and users clicking onto content that they need to go deeper in their research.

Engagement – This can be measured by users taking the first *action on the ad unit or article.
*Actions - Hover, Click, Scroll, Share, Share Click

Interactions – Includes all actions in the unit, this tracks a level deeper than the first engagement.

Share Rates – Most readers of my blog have a twitter/FB/LinkedIn account, so we are familiar with the idea of sharing interesting stories.  Make sure your content is enabled with social sharing icons and track the share rates. This is good barometer of relevance, interest, impact.

Click Rates – If you have a native advertising campaign how many people click on hyperlinks in the content? How many engage with traditional banners on the page?

Page Views Per Visit – In your native ad campaign how deep are users going into the site it's based on? How many pages are they viewing?

Brand Lift Studies – These are tough but there are 3rd parties out there that can help do brand lift studies and measure the impact of your Native ad campaigns or other brand investments.  They can measure if metrics like Purchase Intent, Recommendation Intent, Associated Brand Values, and others increase as a result of your native or brand efforts.

These measurement metrics above should help you identify impactful ways to monitor the results of your Native or Brand campaigns. How much weight you assign to each differs based on the goals and the setup of your campaign. To bring back the earlier analogy, these metrics can help you judge the fish by its ability to swim.

Still skeptical about Native Advertising and other Branding initiatives – check out this post by Eric Wittlake - The Biggest Missed Opportunity in B2B Lead Generation.


Track the touch points and interactions you have with users as they move through the whole buying cycle. Use a full market mix model to understand the impact of all the engagements users have with your brand. The average IT buyer is viewing 6+ pieces of content as they move through the buy cycle. What impact did each of those 6 have on their short list? Is one of those content engagements more powerful at moving the user from one stage of the buy cycle to the next?

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