The reason online advertising is so accountable is due to the technology. If your campaign objectives are to achieve as many sales as possible, then this can be counted and directly attributed to an individual media placement or even a specific creative execution. This is achieved by putting a tracking tag on the sales-confirmation page on the advertiser’s website. There is no limit on how many of these tracking tags you use, nor where you place them. There is normally always some event that can be tracked which is of interest, be it a sale, an entry to a competition or registration to a newsletter.

My former clients had accountability needs more advanced than this. To them, it was important to know how much cash had actually been invested into their products, e.g. 1 person who opened a bank account with £100,000 was more valuable to them than 100 people with £500 each. This was possible to track too, and also allows you to calculate a true ROI of your advertising spend, e.g. for every 1€ invested in advertising, 100€ of revenue is generated.

The vast amounts of post-campaign reporting and analysis available showing which placements drove the most sales etc, is essential information and the learnings must always be used as the foundation of future campaigns.

Adserving verifies that you get what you paid for

With media plans becoming more complex, and the selection of websites becoming more fragmented it is now more important than ever to use the adserver to verify that what your media owner has promised to deliver, is actually delivered. There is normally always a discrepancy between what they say they have delivered and what you think has been delivered, and if it’s larger than 10 % it should be investigated and compensated where necessary.

None of these benefits are available unless every piece of online marketing is served through a single online adserver, including paid-search campaigns, all display media, richmedia, newsletters etc. Recently I have had to take a hard-line when planning campaigns in the developing online markets of Eastern Europe with media owners refusing to accept adserved campaigns for trivial reasons. In almost every case I have had to end up cancelling bookings as not only is it completely unaccountable and therefore potentially a misuse of my clients’ budgets, but could place my clients in a liable situation. If I were to agree to send these sites the physical campaign assets, and not our adserved tags we would not be able to ensure the creative was removed at the end of the campaign. This could land my client with legal issues if the creative was advertising a special deal that had expired, for example.

Brand based objectives can be measured by brand studies

Even if your campaigns aren’t sales driven, but have objectives that are more brand/awareness based, then it is almost always essential to run a brand study alongside the campaign. Running one of these types of brand studies with the Dagmar research team delivers pop-up surveys to people who have been exposed to your advertising; people who interacted with your advertising; and a control group who had no exposure to any of your advertising. When the campaign is complete, you should see results showing that people who were exposed to your advertising thought more favourably of your brand than people who haven’t seen your advertising. These studies are relatively cheap, but do require a couple of weeks to plan.