Gareth Lloyd is Head of Data and Analytics at 24.com, the digital division of Media24, the oldest and largest publisher in South Africa, owned by Naspers. Its digital footprint includes some of the largest and most trusted news sites in the region reaching between 1 and 2 million users daily.
For the latest in our #brandliftlessons interview series, we ask how Media24 is using brand lift measurement to drive revenue, plus the role brand measurement has to play in proving the value of trusted, premium news. The interview took place in late November of last year.
What has been your approach to campaign measurement in the past and how has that evolved?
In the past, our reporting focussed largely on the metrics agencies most typically asked for - simple reach, frequency and and clickthrough rates (CTR). Then breaking that down even further, for example by device type and location. This was all quite static for a while, before moving towards even more specific performance measures, like cost per acquisition (CPA).
Our focus shift towards brand measurement really started when we saw some of the case studies coming out of the Scandinavian publishers, especially Schibsted.
We’ve long kept in contact with our Nordic colleagues around best practice – and many of them really lead the way in the industry, in a number of areas. And this is where we first learned about Brand Metrics, whose metrics and systems they were principally using.
We investigated in great detail the master thesis behind Brand Metrics’ measurement and data, which convinced us this was a new methodology worth trying. That in turn led to our partnership.
What that meant was our digital measurement was no longer limited just to clicks and reach. For the first time, we could shift the focus around - to actually measuring the brands advertising with us. In other words, we could prove attitudinal shifts, a really nice way of showing additional value from campaigns, and augment our results.
The partnership began around the end of 2018, and we’ve since run around 400 campaigns with enhanced Brand Metrics reporting.
What revenue growth can you directly link to offering brand lift measurement to advertisers?
Today, the agencies of course still have their benchmarks around CTR. But what Brand Metrics has done is to help transform the limited thinking around what the value add of a digital campaign actually is.
Let’s say a campaign’s performance is let down by the quality of the creative, even if CTR may be lower than the previous campaign, we can still show it changed attitudes on a different level. In other words, Brand Metrics allows us to show results are not simply tick or cross, you can diagnose various outcomes. Adding this has given a whole new dimension to our reporting.
In so doing, it invariably increases the likelihood of a client coming back – so Brand Metrics has absolutely enhanced our offering - clients love it, and it brings them back for more.
In terms of attributing specific revenue increases, with 80 per cent of our audience on mobile, we’ve long been one of loudest voices in arguing for moving spend towards that channel.
We ran a series of measured trials with the region’s top ten advertisers, to prove branding effects by mobile format. And we’ve clearly seen the resulting impact in our financial results, driven really strongly with the help of Brand Metrics data.
What role do you think brand measurement has to play in proving the value of trusted, premium news?
For premium, quality publishers, measuring branding effects is absolutely fundamental. There is a need to diversify beyond performance alone, and a number of voices across the industry worldwide are making this point. But they are by no means everywhere.
Generally, when people do make this argument, it recalls what we all used to learn in marketing degrees 10-20 years ago. And that is, brands’ most important way of influencing consumer decisions isn’t just limited to an immediate, short space of time. To a large degree, we have lost that idea of brand building.
To some extent, digital forced us into this. But whenever we discuss this idea with brands, and we explain how we bring in additional metrics beyond simple performance, they always agree that CTR is not the be all and end all. Something else is happening in your brain – it’s about mental availability, as Byron Sharp famously argued.
The agency world is still really strong in South Africa. And we find that more frequently than ever they are asking for brand lift surveys – in part because Google and Facebook offer them too.
The challenge is that brand metrics are obviously a lot more complex to set up and measure accurately than certain performance measures. Are advertisers looking under the hood to understand how each of these systems really work?