Posts Tagged ‘measurement’

What You Think You Know about Advertising on the Web Is Probably Wrong: Part Two

Monday, April 28th, 2014

online-advertisingIn part two of a series, we further explore Tony Haile’s article at, “What You Think You Know about the Web Is Wrong.” Here we examine the effectiveness of online advertising, with lessons for how tech B2B marketers can use better design and better content to reach their audience.

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As discussed in Part One of this blog, Haile thinks that the “Attention Web” is a new way to focus advertising based on a user’s attraction to valuable content and design. But first, he debunks several myths of online advertising.

Myth 3: Native advertising is the savior of publishing

With media companies desperate for new revenue streams and looking for ways to capture audience attention more thoughtfully, native advertising has recently been the talk of the town.

With native advertising, companies create original content and place it on specific news sites in a format that looks and feels like editorial content, because they want their message communicated in a way that is non-disruptive. But does this really work? With regular editorial content, two-thirds of people engage with it for more than 15 seconds – but with native ad content, only one-third engage more than 15 seconds. You see the same thing with page-scrolling behavior: with typical editorial content, 71% of readers scrolled down. But with native content, only 24% of people scrolled down the page at, all based on Chartbeat’s research.

That being said, native advertising isn’t all doom and gloom, some sites have worked hard to ensure the native advertising experience is consistent with what visitors come to their site for. Gizmodo does this really well and they have seen their native advertising perform as well as their normal content as a result.

Myth 4: Banner ads don’t work

The next myth discusses why banner ads are NOT dead. If you listen to the ‘experts,’ click-through rates on banner ads are now averaging less than 0.1% and you’ll hear the words banner blindness discussed at length. But the truth is a bit more complicated…

Research has consistently shown the importance of great ad creative in getting a visitor to see and remember a brand. What’s less well known is the scientific consensus based on studies by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Chartbeat that a second key factor is the amount of time a visitor spends actively looking at the page when the ad is in view. Someone looking at the page for 20 seconds while an ad is there is 20-30% more likely to recall that ad afterwards.

So, for banner ads to be effective, the answer is simple. You have to deliver great creative and then place the ad near it for a long enough period for the viewer to truly see it. The challenge for banner ads is that traditional advertising heuristics demand that ads be placed on the parts of the page that capture the least attention, not the most.

Here’s the deal: 66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold. That leaderboard at the top of the page? People scroll right past that and spend their time where the content is.

So while the Attention Web may just seem like a way to structure Web advertising based in consumer behavior, it does indeed have the potential to make a big impact. It’s not just the publishers of quality content who win in the Attention Web, it’s all of us. When sites are built to capture attention, any friction, any bad design or eye-roll-inducing advertorials that might cause a visitor to spend a second less on the site is bad for business.

This means better design and a better experience for everyone. A web where quality makes money and great design is rewarded? That’s something worth paying attention to.

How would the Attention Web change how you structure your next web advertising campaign?

Myth: Click-throughs and shares are the best proof of ad effectiveness

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

share-st-1aMany long-held assumptions about Web-based and social media-driven advertising go under the microscope in “What You Think You Know the Web Is Wrong,” an article at by Tony Haile. Haile is the CEO of Chartbeat, a real-time Web analytics solution provider. The article raises fascinating questions about the effectiveness of online advertising, with lessons for how tech B2B marketers can use better design and better content to reach their audience. This post is the first of two based on Haile’s research.

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At McBru, we pay a lot of attention to the latest trends and research in digital advertising – how they impact customer behavior and customer awareness and affinity towards brands.

In his article on, Haile talks about some of the myths of online advertising and our understanding of it.  The article discusses the “Attention Web” – a new way of focusing advertising based on a user’s attraction to valuable content and design – and how there are powerful new methods of capturing data that can give media sites and advertisers a second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel view of user behavior.

First though, we need to understand some of the myths of traditional Web advertising analytics. Turns out that these “measurement” methods, which purport to peak into customer behavior on the Web and gauge the success of marketing campaigns, simply aren’t accurate.

Myth 1:  Conventional knowledge suggests that publishers have been chasing page views, the metric that counts the number of times people load a web page. The more page views a site gets, the more people are reading its contents, and the more successful the site is as part of a larger marketing campaign.

Maybe not…Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior of 2 billion visits across the Web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. There is a concept of click fraud but the real issue is that customers aren’t reading what the metrics says they are.  It goes without saying that the most valuable audience is the one that reads our content, and finds it compelling enough to come back for more.

Myth 2: The more we share, the more we read.  As page views have begun to fail as a metric, brands have embraced social shares such as Facebook likes or Twitter retweets as the new measurement and currency of success. Social sharing is public and suggests that someone has not only read the content but is actively recommending it to other people.  Obviously caring about social sharing makes sense and companies are likely to get more traffic if readers share their content as opposed to doing nothing at all: the more Facebook “likes” a story gets, the more people it reaches within Facebook and the greater the overall traffic. The same is true of Twitter, though Twitter drives less traffic to most sites.

The rub is that people who share content are a small fraction of the people who visit that content. Chartbeat tracked specific content with social activity and there was only one tweet and eight Facebook likes for every 100 visitors.

Also, conventional wisdom would hold that the more a piece of content is shared or liked, the more likely it is to be read or otherwise consumed. However, according to Haile, “We looked at 10,000 socially-shared articles and found that there is no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content.”

In other words, using shares as a measure of marketing success ignores the behaviors of a huge portion of your audience. And in general, relying on click-throughs and social sharing as a measure of marketing success can often lead us to jump to conclusions that the data does not support.

Watch this space for Part 2 of this series on the myths of online advertising.

5 Lessons About Using Brand Awareness Surveys to Measure Tech B2B Advertising Programs

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

freeimage-2644573-webAs B2B Tech marketers, we’re constantly wondering how effective our online advertising programs are, and how to measure their success. We’ve talked before about the month over month review of metrics like impressions and click-thru rates, but what about the big picture? How do you know your messaging is moving the needle on your company’s brand awareness? One direct way to measure the big picture is through a Brand Awareness Survey: a research project designed to measure a targeted audiences’ awareness of your brand.

There are many resources for helping you do this research, and we’re happy to provide you with some best practices:

  • Identify your audience – It’s important to be specific about who you will be surveying. A good general rule is to target the same audience profile that you target with your advertising. To avoid biasing your results, you’re best off sending a blind survey, in which the audience does not know who sponsors the survey.
  • Ask strategic questions – Think about your ad program goals for the year. Have you recently added a new geography or language? Are you trying to boost a new vertical market? Do you want to know how your brand compares to those of your competitors?
  • Get into your audiences’ heads – Your survey should ask respondents to rank the importance of key brand attributes (innovation, portfolio breadth, cost, etc.), then ask which vendors they associate with those attributes. That helps you understand your competitive brand positioning, and also gives guidance about what attributes to focus on.
  • Keep measuring – If you’re measuring how much your program has affected your audience’s brand awareness, you need a benchmark. Typically, we do a benchmark survey at either the onset of a program, or the beginning of the new year. Then we send a follow-up survey at the end of the program or the year. Comparing the results is your best way to know how your program did.
  • Evaluate and improve – Now that you have your data, you need to apply what you learned to your awareness programs. For example, you may refocus on the goals and attributes that need more lift.

As you use this tool more extensively, you’ll learn more tricks of the trade, such as aided and unaided awareness. Do you have any of your own best practices? Or have you faced any particular challenges? Let us know!

Growing Pains for a Growing Platform: Mobile Marketing

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

By now, we are aware that mobile as a marketing platform continues to gain traction. However, as with any evolving medium, there are still challenges that need to be addressed and overcome by B2B marketers.

A recent survey by Forrester Research and Aquent revealed that 42% of survey respondents claimed measurement/ROI of mobile marketing as one of their biggest challenges.

Other challenges included:

  • Incorporating mobile into other marketing programs (55%)
  • Reaching the right audiences (34%)
  • Data security (34%)
  • Staffing challenges tied to ROI (68% claimed that they would have to prove positive ROI before they can hire mobile marketing staff)

As with any emerging platform, obstacles are sure to arise. The key for tech B2B marketers will be to have a well thought out mobile marketing strategy in place combined with a certain degree of testing and experimentation to help determine what mobile programs will yield the highest ROI.

With 45% of the adult population currently using mobile Internet at least weekly to download and use applications and consume information, it makes sense to keep investing and experimenting with this platform, as that number will only keep growing.


How Do You Measure Success?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

At McBru, we're big believers in setting clear, measurable objectives and then reporting back to our clients regularly on our progress. Every project we undertake has clearly defined goals and objectives that have been translated into a set of expected measurable outcomes we can monitor using quantitative and/or qualitative results. Whether it's a short term project like a press tour or a long-term ongoing social media program, the outcomes should be used to track progress, guide the project, and evaluate its ultimate success.

Measuring the success of a program is often different than measuring its ROI (return on investment). For many marketing and PR programs, successful outcomes aren't directly measurable in terms of a dollar value. Some qualitative outcomes are awareness and reach, and quantitative outcomes include increased media placements, web traffic, or Net Promoter Score (NPS).

The program goal should determine what you measure for your results. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, the best way to do this would be to conduct a before and after brand study of your target audience. The first study benchmarks the awareness level and the follow up study tells you how far your activities have moved the needle. Other, less direct ways to measure brand awareness are to look at media placements, blog mentions, website traffic, share of conversation, or number of Twitter or Facebook followers.

Remember to report back regularly on progress – and be flexible about tweaking the goals and objectives when necessary to keep a project on track.

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Execs See Increase in Marketing’s Impact on Bottom Line

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010


According to a study called “Measuring Marketing Effectiveness” cited in BtoB Magazine, executives perceive that marketing is doing a better job contributing to the bottom line.  That’s good news.  The not-so-good news?  Marketing’s inability to forecast its impact on the bottom line.  This is why marketing is often treated as an organizational parasite, particularly in the tech BtoB space, rather than the essential contributor it should be.  Marketing budgets are slashed at the first sign of economic trouble because we can’t prove that marketing actually delivers meaningful, tangible results.  I continue to be shocked and dismayed at how many tech BtoB marketers don’t even attempt to measure results, creating programs with no measurable objectives, or worse, creating such objectives and then failing to measure, analyze and refine to improve results over time.  If marketing wants to be taken seriously as a vital contributor to the corporate bottom line, we need to get serious about forecasting and measuring that contribution.

High Tech Marketing: Thoughts About Thinking

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Our week began with a lengthy positioning and messaging exercise with an IT industry client. A few minutes into it, our client exclaimed, “I am so glad to finally do this, to step back and really think about what we’re doing.”

thinkerThat got me to thinking: with the rapid pace in technology markets, how many of us are too busy just doing to enjoy the luxury of thinking?

This challenge is worse today because the recession has placed pressure on many technology marketers to do more with less staff and fewer resources. Some days it seems impossible just to get all your action items done.

Add to that the increasing importance of measurement. Being uber-busy may result in more programs, more meetings, more content, more technology – all of which can lead to bigger numbers in your metrics. But are they the right numbers? Or are we in danger of succumbing to the short-term vision of Wall Street, where the next quarter is all that really matters?

Now throw social media marketing on top of the pile. What matters here is what people are saying on Twitter, LinkedIn, major blogs and other services right now. We monitor conversations around the world, analyze, perhaps respond, make a note and go on to the next one. What does that stream of activity do to our ability to keep our eye on the longer game?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I think it’s important to raise them, and to strive to keep a balance between strategy and tactics, between long-term brand value and meeting short-term numbers.

Now stop and think about that for a minute.

Banner Ads Deliver More Than Just Clicks

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

In past posts, we’ve explored how banner advertising remains a workhorse for deep tech marketers.

We explained how your banner ads get greater share of mind as other advertisers go dark. We also showed you an example of a powerful ad we did that pulled in an astounding 15% click-through.

Later, we referenced a B2B Magazine article about how banner ads are becoming a stronger marketing tool. We’re already seeing how the new formats and tracking capabilities mentioned in the article are helping to refresh our clients’ programs.

more than clicksIn both posts, we stayed pretty close to the hard-and-fast measurable of click-through. After all, banner ads are typically considered as the front end of a lead generation campaign. But secretly we wanted to tell you all about how they do far more than that, building awareness and recall as well.

Thanks to this article in the Silicon Alley Insider, we can do just that. The article quotes a study of 80 big-brand campaigns that should expand your opinion about the humble online ad – or as they called them, “display ads.”

  • Improvement in awareness. Exposure to a branded display ad made Web users 50% more likely to search for that brand one week later. That lift carried on for weeks, with a 38% increase a full four weeks after seeing the ad.
  • Improvement in site engagement. Viewers of a display ad spent 55% more time when they eventually visited the advertiser’s Web site, compared to those who did not see the ad.
  • Improvement in ecommerce results. When comparing Web site visitors who had seen the display ads to those who did not, the former group spent 7% more, on average.

Our own measurement of client campaigns shows similar effects within electronics markets. In one instance, a semiconductor client had targeted an increase in brand awareness of 10%. After a worldwide advertising campaign dominated by online advertising, audience familiarity and top-of-mind recall were up across the board. In one particularly important market, familiarity jumped 83% and recall shot up 70%.

Great results, not even counting the clicks.

Photo credit: / CC BY 2.0

Taking the Measure of Integrated High-Tech Marketing

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Every few weeks we share an in-depth look at the McBru programs for one selected client at our staff meeting. The latest example was inspiring. For this client, in the enterprise computing industry, we’re executing a broad integrated effort: from media relations and blog management to executive videos and email marketing. From search engine marketing to live award ceremonies. And more.

Integrated channelsThat’s a lot of activity.

More importantly, that’s a lot of opportunity to measure the audience’s interests.

Most high-tech marketers know that customers want multiple choices for how they request and receive information. What may not be as obvious is that multiple modes of communication present more opportunities for measurement. With tools like Google Analytics, every information push has a corresponding data pull. It’s easier than ever to know what kind of information your market responds to. How different channels behave. And what customers expect today from the companies they do business with.

What struck me in this example was the opportunity to learn about interaction between channels of communication. We’re able to look at which blog posts lead to the most visits to specific parts of the Web site. Which email newsletter articles lead to requests for more event information. If an individual clicks on a paid search term, does it increase traffic at the blog as well as the Web site? We’ll know.

We’re able to take a big step beyond quantity of response towards quality.

Making sense of all the data takes rigorous planning that includes an integrated approach to metrics. You need to set out your objectives and which data measure success. Then set up the tools to give you the data as quickly and cleanly as possible. Finally, make sure your team understands the process to evaluate and respond to trends that emerge. Whew.

All that planning can lead to deeper, qualitative understanding of your marketplace’s informational needs.