The Roles of Quality Metrics in Display Advertising Attribution

The Roles of Quality Metrics in Display Advertising Attribution

01 September 2022 |

Data, Insights, Privacy

Attribution to display advertising has often provided challenges to marketers. This is because of the rapid changes the channel has seen in only a handful of years such as the types of inventory, the varying buying methodologies, increasing stages of arbitration, etc. Before those, display’s evolution began more simply as expanding its role across the funnel or re-aligning as an industry on the thinking that we can measure this channel’s contribution beyond clicks to the media plan. Even those changes felt monumental on their own!

Similarly, attribution of media, in general, has also evolved over the few years that have passed. Attribution has always been about evaluating marketing touchpoints a consumer encounters on their path to purchase. However, in practice, aggregating and normalising the most accurate model for any given brand will never be a one-off concern.

Given the pace of change, it seems that we can safely assume that both display and media attribution will continue to evolve. If so, then why is it that we seem to be so reticent when it comes to introducing evolution into our measurement? 

Viewability – an early quality metric 

An example of this hesitancy is seen with viewability. This propensity for an ad to be seen by a user is one of these early quality metric evolutions that I believe we are still onboarding half a decade in, especially concerning attribution. Often viewability is relegated to campaigns with brand objectives or it is excused away for cost-per-click buys since impressions that do end in clicks were expected to be in view. However, considering that attribution models account for impressions served for display ads, therefore, with an absence of viewability measures regardless of our objective, then we are claiming or attributing conversions against impressions that may never have been in view and therefore could never have had a real impact on the path to purchase or more importantly any behavioural impact within the customer.

Attention – the current state of quality metrics and attribution

Similarly, attention metrics are at a stage where proponents in the industry are trying to quantify how much attention is required for an ad to drive an outcome. In general, attention metrics focus on defining the likelihood for the user to absorb advertising messaging. These metrics are a collection of observed signals such as cursor hover time or eye tracking, combined with proxy signals which include viewability, contextual alignment, time in view, etc. 

By its very nature, attention metrics should be deeply linked to how we attribute outcomes to channels. Particularly when evaluating media, these signals derive value when correlated with conversions or products as they inform which media channels can present the best opportunities for a user to actually interact, engage or be intercepted by a brand’s message effectively. After all, even if your ad was on screen but it is lost within content, scrolled away from or never looked at, then how can you say it drove an impact on the conversion it was attributed to?

We, therefore, need to include quality metrics to improve attribution for display

After understanding the roles of quality metrics in display advertising attribution, ultimately, we believe that regardless of how marketing evaluation methodologies such as attribution evolve, we need to remember that the primary goal is not to simply classify as many tracked outcomes to channels as possible, rather it should be ensuring that marketing spending is distributed effectively against activity that creates actual impact and outcomes for a brand.

To learn more and understand the roles of quality metrics in display advertising attribution, get in touch with an ADMATICian today.