Balancing Quality with the Fallacy of Efficiency

Balancing Quality with the Fallacy of Efficiency

Disclaimer:  The following article applies to awareness/branding campaigns and not direct response initiatives.

When you purchase something you typically know the price, quantity, and quality of whatever it is you’re buying.  Whether you’re buying a single pair of shoes or an apple, the market should accurately reflect what you’re about to purchase.  Taking this concept and applying it in a digital ad space eco-system these rules continue to apply as the ad space itself is primarily build on second price auction dynamics. 

Advertisers that are seeking “efficient” CPMs or reach/frequency goals are approaching these success metrics incorrectly.  As discussed earlier, if a shopper were browsing shoes and wanted a pair of limited release sneakers or a generic shoe, the quality (or perceived quality) would be reflected in the price as dictated by the market.  In a display or online video context we need to weigh multiple factors in play and not just price alone, although you will typically get what you pay for.

Whether your digital media buy is over or about to launch, ask yourself the following questions before being fixated on the quantity alone:


Metrics to pay attention to…


o   What domains are you appearing on?  Do you recognize this site?  Is there contextual value to you knowing your messaging is on these sites?

o   What information can you find out about the top sites you appeared on using open tools like Alexa rankings?


Viewability & Measurability

[(Viewable Impressions) / (Measureable Impressions)] = Viewability Rate

[(Measurable Impressions) / (Total Impressions)] = Measurable Rate

o   What are your viewability levels overall and on a domain basis?  Can you identify quality in these levels?  What are these CPM amounts in these instances?

o   Measurability – How much of your traffic was measurable?  Avoid sites/apps that cannot be measured as lessons about quality cannot be identified, and these sites inherently have low quality in deemed unmeasurable.


Player Size/Audio-ability (Online Video Only)

o   What was the average player size of your video?  Was it a large pre-roll environment or a muted 300x250 in-banner video?  Keep in mind to treat desktop and mobile environments separately.

o   Was there an indication that your ad was not only seen, but also heard?

Weigh these metrics together, identify sources of quality – avoid areas of waste.


Fraud/Invalid Traffic

o   Are there spikes in specific domains or ad exchanges?

o   Are there unrecognizable sites or international domains appearing on delivery reports? 

        o  If yes, build master black lists to apply to future campaigns to eliminate waste.

        o  Invest in pre-bid fraud solutions.


After reviewing the metrics above before a campaign launch or after, keep in mind that there are multiple metrics in play and not just one.  We are combining the source of the traffic, how it was presented, and how it was received – again, we’re not simply glancing at the price and moving on.  It would be unfair to compare a custom pair of Italian leather shoes to an off-brand pair of shoes missing its laces in the bottom of a bargain-big as one in the same simply because they’re both considered shoes.  Before being fixated on impression delivery and price alone, understand what you’re paying for and the right way to measure it.




Measuring Awareness Campaigns