Why ‘likes’ don’t add up to success

If your digital marketing isn’t paying off, you could be measuring the wrong criteria says Julia Dear, Sales Director, Haymarket Consumer Media

A recent study via the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) states that 18% of adults currently use ad-blocking software (up 3% since June 2015). However 61% said that they would rather not have to pay for the content they consume. But quality content is expensive to produce, and publishers have lost a huge chunk of revenues due to the free nature of the web. If digital advertising is under threat, then in many cases the content will disappear.


Many commenters to date have suggested that the only way to fix the problem is for publishers to rethink the advertising they carry on their sites and consider more carefully the user experience. But what does that really mean? Adblock Plus, for example, allows websites to pay to put themselves onto a ‘white list’ (surely a racket in itself) if they comply with their ‘acceptable ads criteria’. This states that ads should be ‘Preferably text only, with no attention-grabbing images’. I am not a creative, however I am a consumer and I am pretty sure that text-heavy ads are a hideous user experience?


How clients measure success is what truly drives the issue, particularly with the increase of brand advertising moving online. Clients who would previously conduct brand studies to measure uplift or engagement are now focusing on clicks or ‘likes’ or any other digital measure available. We have become an industry measuring because we can as opposed to because, or how, we should.


So what is the solution?


If we want consumers to engage with ads and stop using ad blockers, we need to start by measuring success properly. Couple that with a proper focus on the creative is being served and in what context, and publishers can confidently reduce the amount of ads on the page and go back to focusing on the user experience and ensure the advertising is genuinely complementary. Clients will be rewarded with deeper engagement and higher ROI and consumers will enjoy the advertising as part of their interaction with the brand.


Steve Brown, chief revenue officer at Rezonence recently suggested the industry move from a CPM model to a cost per human. The idea being that once you have successfully engaged with a consumer with one message, you don’t need to keep up a constant stream of the same messaging. It is an interesting idea that again starts with marketeers reimagining what success looks like in digital marketing.  


B2B brands will pay extraordinary amounts of money to reach and engage with a handful of influential advocates within particular industries. They are less focused on scale and buying clicks. Instead they are looking for deep engagement within a very specifically targeted audience and they therefore value that audience accordingly.


Clients need to seek out the brands that specialise in their markets and have a deeper, more direct, relationship with the targeted audiences they are trying to reach. They should partner with those brands to better understand consumer behaviour and how they can improve their success criteria to drive performance both with those brands, but also across their wider marketing plans.


At Haymarket we see ourselves as critical in helping our clients achieve that. Our market-leading position within the Automotive, Consumer Electronics and Football markets in particular mean that we understand those audiences better than anyone (including the client!). We can track and observe their behaviour across our sites in real time (What Car?, for example, is often said to be a live proxy of the car market at any given moment), and the deep trust and shared goals and values we have with our audiences mean that they also tell us an awful lot more. Overlay that with years of editorial experience and expertise within those markets, we can add real value to any marketing plan – or product development for that matter…


Scale and efficiency has its place, but clients needs to be wary of that in isolation and should use specialists or contextually relevant brands to help them to improve their measurement criteria and ultimately improve their ROI across the board.