What's the value of being seen online? What benefit is derived from ad messaging? Can ad messaging alone influence consumers online -- regardless of clicks? If so, how can this influence be measured, optimized and scaled? Answering these questions will determine the future of publishers and advertisers alike.
Publishers must move beyond the idea that clicks represent adverting success. Clicks are scarce. Clicks cannot be scaled. Clicks devalue exposures. Without the ability to move beyond a focus on clicks, publishers will not grow sales -- for themselves or their advertisers. Their huge inventory of exposures will not be monetized -- ever.
A focus on clicks and click-through rate (CTR) is another way of saying that advertisers wish to be seen as few times as possible for the same ad spend. Built into this proposition is that idea that brand exposures are worthless. Yet, Brand Activity is the primary driver of conversions -- online and offline. Brand Activity cannot occur unless consumers are exposed to a brand.
Exposures drive Brand Activity -- which is represented by brand searches and direct entries online. Consumers don't search for brands or go to a website without knowing a brand exists. This activity can be measured. Because it can be measured, it can be scaled. Brand Activity represents the best customers of B2B and B2C sites. These visitors stay on site longer, view more pages, convert higher and generate the bulk of conversions.
The largest display advertisers understand the impact of exposure on success. Companies such as Dollar Shave Club, Wayfair, Zulily, and others have built their brands by focusing on being seen. In nearly every industry, there are players who've taken advantage of cheap exposures to dominate their markets. Yet, they aren't likely to share their approach for fear of driving up costs and aiding competitors. AdBeat.com and SimilarWeb.com have tools to uncover these advertisers.
Exposures have value when combined with frequency and effective messaging. When publishers learn what frequency and messaging produces results, they can build stronger relationships and increase their revenue. Savvy marketers have already spent time testing and optimizing for results. They depend on the lack of knowledge within the publishing community to keep costs low. Their competitors, however, provide an opportunity. Through testing and optimizations, these advertisers can discover the benefit of exposures with the help of publishers.
Google knows the value of exposures -- yet, is in no hurry to educate most advertisers or it's network of publishers. It's developed tools for savvy advertisers to measure the impact of being seen. In search, impression-assisted conversions show the value of being seen to marketers. View-through conversions show the value of display exposures. In both instances, these conversions are much higher than 1-click conversions -- and are ignored by most marketers.
Google knows that exposures are it's future -- not clicks. It has mountains of data that proves the value of exposures. Publishers don't. Yet, tracking attribution doesn't require a team of engineers, an army of programmers or a decade to develop. It can be done simply and elegantly working with advertisers. Contact me if you'd like some tips on this.
If exposures have no value, publisher are dead. Google, Facebook, Instagram, and traditional media have no future if advertisers believe that being seen doesn't matter. Luckily, exposures do have value. I know this because I've helped build leading retailers and brands with a focus on exposures. I've benefited from the ignorance of publishers and competitors in this regard. I've paid a fraction of what exposures were actually worth. I've helped clients operating out of small warehouses compete with national brands -- and win. Yet, if conventional wisdom isn't challenged -- my profession will follow publishers over the cliff.