Google Launches Improved Online Advertising Metrics for Brand Marketers

traditional advertisingintroductory3

For traditional brand marketers, it's no secret that measuring the impact of advertising efforts has always been a struggle. But with the rise of the web and digital advertising, luckily, these efforts have gotten much easier to measure through such standardized metrics as clicks, interaction rates, and conversions.

But have these metrics ever really been good enough to measure branding?

Google thinks not. Which is why today at the Ad Age Digital Conference, Google, partnering with the industry and supporting the IAB's Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) coalition, has launched the new Brand Activate Initiative, "an ongoing Google effort to address these challenges and re-imagine online measurement for brand marketers." The new initiative aims to reduce marketers' challenges in measuring an ad's ability to cause changes in brand favorability or in driving purchase intent and, ultimately, sales.

The announcement of Google's new initiative is also accompanied by its first wave of new brand metrics, which are being built into the tools advertisers already use to manage their ad campaigns. These three measurement initiatives are the Active View and Active GRP metrics (both rolling out starting today), and the Brand Impact Survey Pilot (coming soon).

Before we dive into what these individual metrics mean, check out Google's overview video on its new Brand Activate Initiative:

Active View

The first of the new Brand Activate Initiative metrics is Active View, a technology that can count “viewed” impressions, or a display ad that is at least 50% viewable on the screen for at least one second, as defined by the IAB’s proposed standard. In other words, with Active View, brand marketers can understand more than just impressions (i.e. simply whether their ads have been served). Now they can also understand whether the ad was actually viewed. Active View is made up of two insights: the percentage of the ad that was seen, as well as the duration for which it was seen.

Active View is being submitted for accreditation by the Media Rating Council (MRC), will be available in the coming weeks within the Google Display Network Reserve, and will be made a universal currency that will ultimately be offered within DoubleClick for Advertisers and Google's publisher partners, meaning advertisers will have the opportunity to pay only for Active View, or viewed impressions.

Active GRP (Gross Rating Point)

Active GRP is an online metric that adopts the methodology of GRP (gross rating point), a television advertising metric used to estimate how many people saw a certain TV advertisement. Google hopes that by using an online equivalent of this standard offline metric, marketers will be able to extend brand marketing from offline to online, comparing results across the two mediums.

Active GRP, like the traditional offline metric, enables marketers to determine the reach and frequency of a given online advertising campaign. But because Active GRP is built into the ad serving tools Google's publishers and marketers already use, it also allows marketers to react and make adjustments to their campaigns in real time, a feature missing from its offline counterpart. According to Google, Active GRP also depends on a robust methodology that combines aggregated panel data and anonymous user data with Active View data to combat issues like panel skewing and reliance on a single data source.

Active GRP is first being used in a pilot program for Google's DoubleClick for Advertisers clients before being rolled out to other products.

Brand Impact Survey Pilot

The final brand measurement initiative Google mentioned is its Impact Survey Pilot with digital brand advertising measurement company, Vizu. While Google reported very little on what this entails, we do know that it is the result of an experiment Google reported on last month involving online brand measurement research for approximately 70 DoubleClick for Advertisers (DFA) campaigns. The approach leverages DoubleClick ad-serving technology to generate two groups of users that have been randomly selected. One group sees the campaign ads, while the other sees public service ads instead, and Vizu’s sampling technology is then used to administer a brand lift survey to all users to measure such variables as brand awareness, purchase intent, and favorability. According to Google:

"The brand results show how ads performed across the campaign, as well as different sites and ad frequencies. This data can be used with the other campaign metrics in DFA to help marketers to see the impact of the campaign using any metric they want -- from impressions to clicks to brand impact to conversions."

A Big Win for Brand Marketers

These three new online advertising metrics are definitely a big win for brand marketers everywhere. And Google reportedly isn't stopping there, mentioning plans to continue iterating, integrating, and providing even more metrics for brand marketers to understand how their digital advertising efforts are paying off. 

As Google says, "We think that with brand new metrics comes a new brand moment -- one that will encourage brands to invest in the web, help publishers show the value of their digital content, and stimulate digital media’s own golden age."

For many, online advertising has proven to be a great complement to an overarching inbound marketing strategy, but measuring advertising's impact on branding has always been a struggle. But with new initiatives sprouting up like Google's, brand marketers will more effectively be able to measure how well their digital advertising campaigns are contributing to their overall marketing programs, and that's certainly to marketers' delight.

What do you think of Google's new initiative? Will you be more apt to experiment with online advertising as more robust metrics become available?

Image Credit: TimWilson