Digital advertising is a critical part to most marketing programs, but how often is it driving impactful results?
JK Lloyd, President and founder of Eruptr, estimated that 20% of hospitals in 2011 had used search engine marketing at all. Relative to other industries, hospitals have been slower to jump into digital advertising.
Digital advertising grew 12.2% in 2020 and continues to grow, with ad spending projected to surpass the 200 billion mark in the upcoming year.
Healthcare and pharma still only represent a small portion of the media mix across industries. In 2021, these segments represented just 7.2% of the display advertising pie and 6.4 % in 2021. While this statistic only accounts for display (as opposed to search and programmatic — still a relatively small piece of the pie.
Digital advertising may not be as effective as marketers think. Almost half of all internet traffic is generated by bots, with one-third of advertising dollars wasted on ad click fraud. Global businesses are expected to lose $44 billion to ad fraud by 2022.
Several large advertisers have made deep cuts in their digital ad budget — including Procter & Gamble (cut $200M), JPMorgan Chase (slashed ad reach by 99%) — and seen little or no measurable impact on their business.
The multi-billion-dollar question
With bot traffic and fraudulent activity inflating our metrics, marketers must ask themselves what they can do to reduce digital advertising waste.
We need to recognize technology’s limitations and adjust our strategies accordingly. For example, it’s easy to overestimate a platform’s targeting capabilities.
Keep in mind where digital advertising should fit into your program’s overall media mix, and get specific about the channel you use. For example, if the goal is awareness, video will probably deliver better results than display.
If you are running an awareness campaign, however, question why you’re running an awareness campaign in the first place. There are way too many campaigns where awareness is the goal and impressions are the KPI.
Even Peloton started with product marketing advertising and then moved into brand advertising, video, and CTV.
Evaluate your metrics
Impressions and reach are not adequate measurements for campaign success because users often do not choose whether or not they see an ad. Similarly, impressions do not indicate any targeting accuracy. You could have a high number of impressions amongst a completely wrong audience.
To effectively drive behavior change, our metrics need to reflect behavior change. Site visit rate, the ratio of page visits to ad impressions, can be a quality measure for consumer behavior change. Although this number may be lower than the engagement rate, it gives you a better view of consumer action resulting from your campaign.
Ad platform monetization models are based on clicks, which includes accidental clicks. Accidental clicks may inflate metrics to make the campaign appear more successful than it was, ultimately driving more revenue for the ad platform.
Retargeting can motivate consumer action, but it doesn’t necessarily help marketers attribute consumer action to a campaign.
For example, you may be served an ad for soft pretzels based on your interest in soft pretzels. After seeing the ad, if you buy a soft pretzel, the sale may be attributed to the campaign rather than your unrelated love for pretzels.
This HBR article calls out the issue of correlation vs. causation and where marketers need to sharpen their skill sets.
Driving consumer action requires marketers to understand consumer psychology, behavioral science, analytics, statistics, and more.
By hiring experts in each of these domains and documenting learning objectives for your team, marketing leaders can bolster their team’s capacity to deliver results.