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Brand lift for publishers: 5 minutes with… Sean Adams

As publishers begin to shift away from a reliance on viewability and attention metrics alone, we grab 5 minutes with Sean Adams, global insights director at Brand Metrics, to talk about another important metric: brand lift.

By Sean Adams

Brand lift for publishers: 5 minutes with… Sean Adams

Q: Performance metrics such as viewability and attention have come under the spotlight in recent years. Are there any other metrics that brands and publishers should be considering to make their budgets work harder in the current climate?

A: Traditional metrics are part of the puzzle when analysing campaign performance, but the key development in recent years has been the recognition that not every impression is equal. As such, the industry is finding ways to differentiate and subsequently link to price – ie. the better the impression, the more you pay. However, the metric that’s helping brands and publishers complete the analysis puzzle is brand lift.

Q: Tell us a bit more about brand lift as a metric? Why is it so important?

A: Obviously, the focus of any campaign measurement needs to be on outcomes – that’s the whole point of advertising. But while traditional performance metrics like CTR do measure outcome, not every impression leads to a click. Brand lift moves beyond “this is what happened” to measure actual campaign effectiveness. It does this by measuring the impact that advertising has on brand perceptions during the customer journey that may subsequently lead to action.

Not every impression will lead to a click, but without brand lift data on every campaign, you have no way of knowing other ways in which it may have been successful – nor do you have the insight needed to optimise your approach for future campaigns.

Having a sense of how each ad is working is as crucial as knowing whether it has been viewed, generated attention, or if someone clicked on it.

Q: So brand lift can be measured across the entire buying cycle?

A: Yes, it can and it should. Brand lift is a measurement that tracks four key stages of the customer journey: brand awareness, consideration, preference, and action intent. And it can do so across all formats and devices. These are key stages in the brand funnel, moving people from not having heard of your brand to purchasing your product or service.

We know an ad can be successful even if it doesn’t lead to an immediate click – it might make the user aware of a new brand; prompt them to add the brand to their shortlist; make them start to prefer one brand over a competitor; or guide them through to the ‘action intent’ stage – eg. to find out more or plan to make a purchase.

Without getting too technical, the tech used to measure brand lift uses an integrated site script to capture exposure to campaign creatives. From there, you can retarget visitors in the same environment, in our case, by posing a single survey question about the advertised brand or product, which allows marketers to collect granular yet fully privacy-compliant data.

Combining the retargeted survey question answers with the exposure data, including frequency and time-in-view and algorithmically processing it delivers results in an auto-generated report containing your brand lift data, which you can use to build benchmarks and utilise these insights for future campaign recommendations.

Q: You mention brand lift being compliant with consent and privacy frameworks? How?

A: The data we need to measure brand lift is captured without the need for third-party cookies or personally identifiable information (PII). On top of that, the technology used to measure it is compatible with major ad tech stacks, as well as consent models and programmatic frameworks (eg. IAB’s TCF v2 for GDPR, US API for CCPA) so that it complies with all regulatory requirements.

Q: As an industry, we’re constantly talking about the importance of sharing data across teams. Who is responsible for monitoring brand lift across a campaign, and who should have access to the data?

A: Delivering brand lift via a SaaS platform with unlimited customer access to a UI means everyone across an organisation has access to the data – plus an API can be used to integrate brand lift data into a publisher’s own dashboards. Different publishers have different users of the platform. For instance, the AdOps teams might be responsible for the set-up and monitoring of campaign measurements, while research teams will work with the metadata to build benchmarks and case studies. Commercial teams can also use the data to help frame the conversation as they present campaign results to agencies and advertisers.

Q: What channels are you currently measuring brand lift across? Are there any emerging channels you’re working with now where brand lift will be an important metric in the coming years?

A: This varies a bit by publisher, but the core channels we measure are digital display, video and branded content. The next big channel (and one that we are testing at the moment) is CTV, and the industry is starting to see real-time exposure data being used to revolutionise how the industry measures CTV campaign performance.

We’re also exploring measuring brand lift for podcasts, which, given their intimacy and high attention, have a propensity to deliver strong brand lift.

Q: What’s in the pipeline from Brand Metrics?

A: Because we believe that brand lift should be as much of a metric as impressions, viewability and attention, it’s our mission to continue to explore new ways to extend the channels we are covering, including CTV and podcasts as mentioned – but also other channels such as audio.

We’re also developing closer integrations with the buy-side, as we strive to make brand lift a simple addition to any campaign buy.

Finally, pioneered by our customer National World and their partner DanAds, we are seeing our brand lift measurements being incorporated into a self-serve ad platform, making the data even more widely available, and to smaller advertisers too – enabling campaigns as low as 50k impressions to be measured.

About us

Brand Metrics is a SaaS platform revolutionising campaign effectiveness measurement. Our technology seamlessly integrates with publisher tech stacks to measure digital campaign performance at scale, delivering simple, consistent brand lift data. This data enables publishers to grow their sales revenue and empowers advertisers and agencies to learn from the results and optimise future campaigns for greater effect. For more information, visit