Cheap Impressions Are Dead. What’s Next?

For the past decade, advertisers have been in a race to the bottom, attempting to buy and serve ad impressions at the lowest possible cost. In doing so, we seem to have lost sight of what's important—driving authentic connections between the brands we promote and the people who buy from us.

Digital advertising is a story of evolution. The first digital display ad, while nothing more than a basic click-here banner, opened a whole new universe for advertisers looking to reach audiences online. When programmatic buying was introduced, it further turned advertising on its head. With new technology came unparalleled speed and efficiency, enabling brands to connect with consumers quickly and affordably. Digital video was next—changing the game by bringing the power of sight, sound and motion to people’s devices, making it one of the most powerful ad forms available.

With every development, the industry created proxies to measure ad effectiveness—primarily impressions and click-through rates. And while these metrics give advertisers a general sense of performance and high-level engagement, they provide little-to-no insight into how people are engaging with ads or whether they’re the right people to be talking to in the first place.

As a result, we’ve slowly lost sight of what advertising is meant to accomplish. It’s not about making an impression that’s fast and cheap; it’s about creating authentic connections between brands and consumers that help drive meaningful business outcomes.

So, if cheap impressions aren’t giving brands the outcomes they desire, what’s next in the evolutionary cycle of advertising? At ViralGains, we believe the best way to achieve high ad-engagement rates is through digital video. We also believe the industry needs to reframe how it approaches ad measurement and engagement.

Rather than focusing solely on the cost of a click or an impression (which may or may not be fully viewable), let’s direct our effort toward connecting campaign measurement and optimization metrics to business KPIs such as qualified leads generated, brand sentiment, purchase intent and sales. This would provide advertisers with insight into where their audiences are in the consumer journey, how to move them down the path to purchase and how likely they might be to convert. Technology and consumer habits have evolved. Our methods of measuring success need to evolve, too.

Putting this into practice, a good place to start is allowing consumers to react and respond to your messages. For instance, we provide advertisers with what we call Engagement Experiences—interactive experiences within video ads that enable viewers to share their attitudes, preferences and behaviors including how they feel about a brand, what their product preferences are and whether they are in the market to buy.

When paired with relevant, high-quality video creative, first-party data provides brands with the insights they need to move beyond antiquated success metrics and push into a future where ads are intelligently paired with people who want to see and interact with them.

The bottom line is this: if we can stop hitting people over the head with the messages we think they want to hear and start learning more about what their preferences truly are, we’ll be better able to serve up stories to which they will respond. If we do this, we will begin turning the tide from shallow impression data to focused outcomes that truly move the needle for brands—all while creating lasting, trusted relationships with the audiences that matter most.

Want to learn more about high-impact video advertising? Download the ViralGains Video Ad Journey eBook and read about best practices for driving full-funnel results.

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