Lessons From a Sharethrough Customer Success Manager: Thinking Outside The Box To Fit Inside The Box

on The Future of Advertising

Companies today have to deal with the question of how they should measure their own performance and compare their metrics against the competition.

You might think that in the online advertising industry it would be simple. We collect and deliver data: impressions, clicks and views. We spend our day analyzing and playing with numbers. So it should be pretty straightforward, right?

The challenge is that there are so many types of ad-tech companies now that measuring and comparing data points for native against other display, mobile or video partners isn't as simple as you'd think.

When you look at how varied the ad tech landscape is, can you really compare apples to oranges?

As native ads have become a standardized programmatic ad unit with the passing of OpenRTB 2.3, at Sharethrough our expertise now goes well beyond optimizing CTRs for in-feed placements and we’ve become experts in all aspects of content amplification.

As a Senior Customer Success Manager, when I send a first report out to a new client, they are often confused. Why? Because we do not always fit into the box for how they traditionally view performance.

We look at things like the value of each impression, headline performance, engagement rate, time spent on cards, cost per completed view and custom button clicks.

Everyday we receive spreadsheet templates with cells to fill in, from agencies asking for information on impressions and clicks. Often their analytics team won’t know what to do with the insights and data we've shared. But there is so much that these metrics can tell.

So the question then becomes: how do we educate clients about native advertising?

Tell people stories AND give them insights

Sharing data without context doesn’t mean anything. You have to give it context.

For example, for each creative we run we A/B test multiple headlines and constantly optimize for performance. This obviously leads to better click through rates (CTRs), but what is most interesting to us is to try and understand why one headline performs better than the other.

Is that because you have a brand name in the copy? Is it because you are using an active verb that resonates with audiences, or is it because you have a positive headline that is affirming to audiences and doesn't end with a question?

The data tells stories that we have to try and bring to life for our clients.

Both engagement rate and CTRs matter

Since the introduction of rich media, advertisers understand the concept of engagement with the content, beyond just the click.

With our content card products we can report on additional metrics such as social shares, call-to-action clicks and click-to-play sound on video.

In order to factor in these extra clicks we can include these additional actions in how we determine engagement rate: another metric that doesn’t entirely fit in the box for some clients.

Today we report on both the primary CTR and total engagement rate, which is the perfect way to educate clients about the value of engagement, beyond just the click, and a good compromise when it comes to reporting metrics to clients.

How do you measure the value of an impression?

Native advertising allows brands to place ads into the feeds of premium publishers, which match the user experience of the audience and are much more likely to receive meaningful attention. From that idea, advertisers know that when working with us they are employing higher impact ad units than display banners, but once more, how do you measure that meaningful attention?

With our new headline analyzer we have built a tool that can help prove the value of the impression. Using sophisticated linguistic and data analysis from neuroscience studies and research on our own platform, we have been able to match an impression and an engagement score to each headline. This has helped us show that a powerful headline can drive good brand awareness even if it doesn’t result in as many clicks as you might have initially imagined.

Thanks to our partnership with MOAT we are also able to look at the time audiences spend with the ad at impression level (in the feed, without clicking) and allow the advertiser to keep building out a more complete understanding of the concrete value behind each impression.

In a world where impressions and clicks are king, we want to tell stories about exciting and intriguing headlines as well as continuing to deliver interesting and meaningful content.