Mobile navigation


Native advertising: 5 minutes with…Sean Adams

Native advertising, or sponsored content, is becoming a key part of modern marketing and as with any ad campaign, it is important to measure its performance accurately. But according to one company, we don’t always use the right metrics to do so. We grab five minutes with Sean Adams, global insight director at Brand Metrics, to get his thoughts on appropriate success metrics, and how publishers can use these to attract advertisers.

By Sean Adams

Native advertising: 5 minutes with…Sean Adams

Q: What trends are you seeing in today’s brand content strategies?

A: Native advertising is increasingly climbing up the marketing agenda due to its positive effects on brand lift KPIs. For example, our studies have shown that native campaigns can achieve an average 8% increase in awareness for the electrical, technology and telecoms sectors, an average 10% increase in consideration for the gambling sector, and an average 7% increase in preference for the insurance sector.

In the past, advertisers were only able to measure brand lift for their largest content campaigns. But now, in their efforts to extract more insights, they are keen to measure much smaller campaigns, in terms of both size and budget.

Q: When it comes to branded content campaigns, what do publishers need to do to win more business?

A: Native advertising is often out-performing traditional ads, so publishers need to get serious about offering this space to brands. These campaigns typically influence the upper part of the marketing funnel, shifting perceptions of brands, so this is where publishers should also provide relevant measurement data.

In addition to providing these metrics, publishers should also be looking to measure smaller campaign sizes. Brands and advertisers are looking for a more holistic view of success, so analysis should no longer be restricted to the largest campaigns.

Q: What metrics are advertisers demanding and what are publishers providing?

A: Generally, we are seeing advertisers de-emphasising clicks and engagement and becoming more interested in deeper metrics that validate campaign impact on brands, namely the effect on awareness, consideration, preference and action intent. Rather than just continue to provide traditional delivery and engagement metrics, publishers need to extend their measurement tools to focus on brand lift too.

Q: What are the common misconceptions about branded content campaign measurement?

A: Branded content measurement typically focuses on delivery (using metrics such as reach and page views) and engagement (such as dwell time, scroll depth, video completion, and attention) and of course clicks, with less regular emphasis on the effect (such as effect on awareness, consideration, preference and purchase intent).

The industry is currently focused on engagement, which is a good thing, but less so on the resulting effectiveness. Engagement metrics measure how much attention your ads garner, but not how they alter what the audience thinks about your brand. This is a crucial distinction that more publishers - and brands - need to appreciate.

The other main misconception is that you can measure the effectiveness of a branded content campaign via a traditional control versus exposed methodology. Branded content is a “pull” campaign that people have actively chosen to engage with, so they are likely to have a different brand relationship, compared to those who have not been exposed. Measurement should allow for this difference and also allow for the amount of time that they spend consuming the content. The more time they spend, the more engaged they are, the greater the likely effect.

Q: Are there any UK publishers that have nailed branded content measurement, and what can others learn from them?

A: The Financial Times have established brand lift as a key metric for their branded content. They have been steadily increasing the range of branded content campaigns measured, capturing smaller sized campaigns and additional advertiser categories across B2B and B2C.

These branded content campaigns produced an average increase in brand lift of 21%, with awareness and consideration showing the largest improvements. Moreover, the FT found that the greater the creative variety, the higher the brand lift. From these insights, they are now able to recommend to advertisers the optimum campaign size for brand lift measurement, encourage greater creative variety and use frequency and time-in-view data to build a deeper understanding of campaign effectiveness.

However, it’s important to note that UK publishers can also learn from the success of those in other countries. We have seen promising results from publishers such as Ringier Axel Springer in Poland, CarExpert in Australia, Schibsted in Norway and Ringier in Romania.

Q: Are publishers well placed to win a bigger slice of the branded content pie, and if so, why?

A: Absolutely. Establishing the value of branded content campaigns, by delivering brand lift metrics, provides robust validation to brands. The more relevant the publishers’ data, and the deeper the corresponding insights, the more important they will become to advertisers. This changes a publisher’s role, from simply delivering traffic to becoming a media partner with the ability to advise on the brand-building capabilities of branded content.

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

A: There are many different ways to leverage effectiveness measurement data, aside from making brand lift a campaign KPI. We aim to lead the market in pushing accountability, and to widen the definition of native advertising. Our software already measures small campaigns, but we want to push this further so that those with even fewer views and impressions will be available for analysis. We’re also planning to measure new formats and use metadata to help drive the industry narrative in this arena.

About us

Brand Metrics is a software solution that enables publishers to measure even the smallest campaigns, formats, creatives, and audience segments. All of this is carried out in an easy, privacy-conscious, and future-proof way. We are on a mission to move brand lift from individual measurements to the core of digital media effectiveness by delivering unlimited brand lift metrics. We use a scientific approach to scale ad effectiveness, measuring the uplift of any format (display, video, content) on brand awareness, consideration, preference, and action intent.