Report: Many digital ads not delivered to right audience

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A large number of digital ads are not optimally delivered, said Andrea Vollman, marketing director at analyst firm comScore's Advertising Effectiveness practice. ComScore's “vCE Charter Study,” which studied 1.8 billion ad impressions through 18 total campaigns from 12 different brands, including Allstate, Chrysler, Kellogg's and Sprint, found that 31% of digital ads were not in-view, targeting customers based on behavioral factors was a growing practice and publishers needed to refine their pricing structures for digital ads.

The study used data from comScore's proprietary validated Campaign Essentials (vCE), a solution designed to provide marketers with real-time actionable data on the performance of their digital ads. Besides discovering that nearly one third of digital ads were not shown where customers could see them, the “vCE Charter Study” also noted in-view rates were highly variable—fluctuating between 7% to 100% on different sites. 

The study also noted that demographic targeting worked best if objectives were broad—for instance brands focusing on customers within a large age range reached their targets with 70% of ad impressions. By adding more granular criteria, such as income or gender, ad delivery accuracy declined.

“Hitting people between a certain age range and gender, adds another layer of complexity,” Vollman said. “As you narrow your target, it becomes harder to reach that person.”

Vollman, however, was bullish on targeting customers based on their behaviors. “You want to reach consumers who have exhibited some interest that relates to the product you're selling,” she said. “You can't do that in the traditional world.” The study noted that 37% of all delivered impressions targeted customers with specific interests on which brands were able to capitalize.

However, Vollman noted barriers to adoption of behavioral targeting. “[Marketers] will go to providers and buy behavioral targets from third parties, which are comprised of cookie-based data, which can be inherently flawed in its accuracy, so there's huge variance,” she said.

Vollman also noted that the cost per impression (CPM) marketers pay for advertising is largely imprecise—pricing does not always reflect the value each ad provides to the marketer. For instance, ads with high in-view rates do not get higher CPMs. Conversely, ads with fewer views are not priced more reasonably.  

“It shows us is there's a lot of room for growth,” Vollman said, acknowledging the need for ad publishers to refine their pricing structures.

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