GroupM Media Agency Wavemaker’s Approach to Brand Uplift and Campaign Measurement

Wavemaker logo

Martin Van Der Meij is Head of Digital at Wavemaker Netherlands. Wavemaker is a GroupM media agency. Its clients include Vodafone, Mondelez, Ziggo, Action, Toyota, Lexus and Suzuki. It specialises in offering clients clear insight into the entire customer journey.

For the first buyer interview in our #brandliftlessons series, we asked Martin about Wavemaker’s approach to campaign measurement, and the impact of ‘always on’ brand lift on where media agencies place their investments:

What main role does digital advertising play in building the brands you are responsible for?

Despite the hype, digital is ultimately still mostly used as an add-on for TV or radio for major brands. We can plot spend for the various media via our internal tool. This lets us predict impact for measures like potential brand uplift by channel.

TV and radio are still the biggest winners in that process in terms of branding. Mainly because radio and TV are most cost effective for reaching a big audience.

Until recently, we would also use digital to find those we can’t reach elsewhere – e.g. light TV users. I say until recently, because to do that, we need user segments. But with third-party cookie coverage down to 50% already, you can see how this is already not a sustainable proposition. So, for digital, we’re slowly moving towards contextual and domain-based targeting instead of audience.

How do you typically measure the effect of your digital campaigns?

The reality is we are still not measuring brand lift on every campaign – not even every TV campaign is currently covered. And that’s mainly because the traditional methods and suppliers are too costly, but also because there’s always a delay involved.

So, what replaces that is a benchmark. And within the walled gardens, what we have is essentially Google or Facebook-authored studies. Which I’m not a fan of, because they’re not objective.

What we really want is to be able to do regular brand lift measurement, across different types of measures and campaign objectives, and compare results.

What are your views on brand lift measurement? Do you request it on campaigns you are responsible for, and do you often receive it?

Until Brand Metrics, there was no standard proposition for brand lift measurement from publishers in our region.

Brand Metrics’ key strength is its neutrality – and that is why I’ve been campaigning for publishers here to start using their tech.

With this solution, we will finally be able to compare brand uplift around formats and environments for each brand. And because it’s “always on” by nature, we will also have vastly improved benchmarks. That, in turn, can really start to influence how and where we invest in digital.

What are the main benefits that regularly measuring brand lift provides to brands, to agencies and to publishers?

As mentioned – the impact of better benchmarks is not to be understated. Currently, these are not live, and by necessity based on smaller sample sizes.

Regular brand lift measurement also gives publishers more arguments to support investment with them – an alternative to the CTR stick buyers always beat them with – even if that focus will understandably never completely go away.

The main problem we have in the industry is the compulsion to follow blindly every big new feature that big tech offers. There is a huge number of different measures in digital, while TV still focuses on frequency, reach and price, which work pretty much as well. Back in digital, people go crazy about each new measure conjured up, without looking at the bigger picture.

One example: in video, we’re currently obsessed with completion rates, without having measures in place to check people are actually watching that video in the first place. If it’s playing on an inactive tab, or if someone’s listening to a YouTube playlist on their phone, there’s a strong chance they’re not watching it at all. In which case, completion rate sort of pales into insignificance, don’t you agree?

Have you encountered Brand Metrics’ data in your daily work, and what is your view on what Brand Metrics is trying to achieve in market?

As I said above, we’ve been encouraging the top publishers in the Netherlands to adopt and offer Brand Metrics’ metrics for a while. We’re in a position where they are all either live or just about to be – meaning there is finally scale for a standard, industry-wide brand lift measure here.

The next job for publishers will be in spreading awareness and educating all in the industry that this opportunity exists. Then, for our part at Wavemaker, we need to make sure all planners are also in the know.

We then want to move in the direction of an always-on strategy. That would really be the ideal for us - to see the brand uplift impact across all campaigns. In the FMCG sector, for example, such benchmarks could have a huge impact – because we will finally be able to prove empirically the impact of any format, creative or environment.

We still have no idea, for example what the difference in brand uplift of a homepage takeover is or could be between publisher A and B – or how outstream video compares to display for brand lift. Finally, we’ll be able to put an actual number to all of that.

The list goes on – ultimately, for media agencies, there will be a big impact on where spend goes, once we get beyond the black box of digital we have right now.