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A solid framework for digital measurement that’s easy as ABC

Technology & Data

A solid framework for digital measurement that’s easy as ABC


Mark Henning has a framework for digital measurement that evaluates audience, brand and consumer behaviour – the ABCs.

In a digital world with metrics for everything, why is it that the most common question we get from advertisers is still ‘how do I measure the effectiveness of my digital campaign?’

Many believe that digital will become the single biggest advertising channel globally this year.

It’s no surprise that top advertisers are scrutinising digital spend and ROI as never before and asking for a systemic overhaul of measurement practices.

Part of the problem is that we continue to treat digital as an experiment that brand managers are playing with… an attitude that clearly needs to change.

Digital is littered with metrics – clicks, impressions, CPC, CTR – which all leave brands asking, ‘what was the real impact of my campaign?’

But the most significant challenge we face – even as fundamental as it may seem – is that so many advertisers do not set out with a clear campaign objective.

Drive sales? Sure, every brand wants that. But it’s how that invariably gets muddied – the strategies both direct and indirect need to be clearly outlined and understood by all stakeholders before taking a campaign forward.

Ads aimed at impacting direct sales often include a consumer promotion to drive click-through to making a sale. These should lead with metrics that we know have business impact – number of website visitations, downloads of a service or app, member registration, online sales.

More inspirational ads place a brand at the centre of an experience or emotion. These are brand building ads which are indirectly tied to sales in the form of increased awareness, changing attitudes or motivating people to consider the brand in the future. And for any stakeholder that doesn’t see these indirect metrics as worthy, there is plenty of evidence that shows building brand equity drives long-term growth.

Now let’s assume for the moment that a clear objective is in place.

Let me introduce a solid framework for digital measurement that is independent from the media owner and buyer and evaluates audience, brand, consumer behaviour and sales against measures that help us get to a place where we can be confident about digital’s effectiveness.

You can remember it easily as the ABC’S.



When measuring a campaign, an obvious place to start is audience and how many of your target base you reached and how many times you reached them. This sounds relatively easy, but did you know that in 2015 an estimated $6.3B in advertising dollars globally was spent on non-human traffic?

With bots and cookies manipulating data, it’s vital to be able to sift through the noise and ensure you’re reaching actual humans.

Second, it is equally important that these people actually saw your ad. Digital ad viewability varies significantly by publisher and ad format. Marketers should ensure their advertising is appearing on sites and placements that meet The Internet Advertising Bureau’s published standards.

Finally, were the people you did reach the right ones? A key measure of campaign effectiveness is to determine if the people we targeted were actually the people we reached. Lately, I’ve been seeing digital ads for GoPro cameras – I’m not in the market for one, but my kids certainly are and have been researching them online.



There are two elements of brand to consider: brand safety and brand effects. Brand safety relates to managing the environment your ads appear in to maintain the integrity of your brand, and brand effect is how you intend an ad to impact your brand which should be clearly outlined in your campaign objective.

For these, many use proxies such as engagement or time spent viewing which do not measure brand meaningfully. A better way is to use short surveys while the campaigns are running that compare the attitudes of those exposed to the campaign against similar types of people not exposed to the ad.

Results are reported in real time dashboards exploring the impact of site, ad format, frequency and creative with comparisons to norms for context.


Consumer behaviour

So how did your campaign influence online behaviours? Many campaigns set out to incite a certain behaviour from consumers. For example: book a test drive, visit a web site, enter a competition.

Measuring these outcomes is critical. Make sure you gain an understanding of whether the campaign caused the action or not – just because someone saw your ad and experienced the desired behaviour does not mean the ad exposures caused this.

And finally…



This is the end goal of most campaigns and the most difficult to measure with any reliability. Can you really be sure consumers made a purchase as a result of the campaign?

Most approaches here only look at the short-term sales outcome or a direct response. But what about the sales impact over a longer term? This is particularly relevant where brand building is a key objective – such longer purchase cycle categories FMCG, travel, auto, etc.

Understanding your campaign’s contribution to sales over both the short and long term gives a more complete evaluation of ROI.

When you integrate each element of the ABC’S framework, measurable returns are delivered at every level of the purchase funnel.

Decades old research practices combined with the latest digital technology means that we can measure all of the ABC’s with a great deal of accuracy. But it doesn’t mean that you have to measure everything. The elements to measure will depend on your objective: you may look at A+B only or B+S only or all four depending on your brand and business goals.

While there’s no doubt going to be considerable change afoot with how publishers report measurement, it is vital brands start building advocacy around clear campaign objectives and these metrics fundamentals.

What is key in all of this is that we need to move away from reporting on metrics simply because they exist and are easy to report. Having a strong foundation and shared understanding in place across the business will enable brands to take full advantage of current and future platforms and technology.


Mark Henning is the executive director of media and digital at Kantar Millward Brown based in Sydney.


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