Editor's note: The comScore study “The Halo Effect: How Advertising on Premium Publishers Drives Higher Ad Effectiveness” was not commissioned by Digital Content Next (DCN) or any of its member companies. While the results were shared with DCN prior to publication, DCN did not have any influence over the design of the research or its findings.
Programmatic advertising and its aggregation of inventory are often viewed as the key forces behind the commoditization of digital ad impressions. The shift to audience-centric media buying from earlier practices emphasizing context has left many questioning whether or not the environment surrounding advertising really matters. It is important that we examine what extent does quality drives advertising effectiveness.
Today’s release of comScore’s independent research, “The Halo Effect: How Advertising on Premium Publishers Drives Higher Ad Effectiveness” presents empirical findings that Digital Content Next member sites delivered significantly higher branding effectiveness results than other sites.* Importantly, the research finds that the primary driving force for the brand lift is the positive impact of the “halo effect” of the contextual environment in which an ad is seen. In other words: A good environment drives better ad campaign effectiveness. In fact, while some of the positive effect can be contributed to higher ad viewability and less invalid traffic on premium sites, comScore found that the most significant driver of increased effectiveness is the halo effect of appearing on premium sites. This “premium” designation is one that our own research has borne out as a distinguishing factor in other areas, such as the quality of ad inventory and the significantly lower bot traffic on DCN member sites.
What value does the halo factor have for marketers? Used properly, it can help a brand cut through the clutter and save money on marketing by using this momentum to operate effectively and efficiently throughout the marketing funnel, particularly in the brand consideration stage where the “halo” lift was 3x.
This is demonstrated by the research, which first compared the overall brand lift effectiveness of ads delivered on DCN members’ sites versus non-DCN premium publishers sites. DCN premium publisher sites significantly outperformed those on non-DCN sites—by 67% (0.89 brand lift vs. 0.53). Measuring brand lift answers some of the biggest questions marketers have such as are my ads influencing consumer behavior, are they influencing sales and to what degree. Knowing a campaign is 67% more effective in influencing consumer behavior and intent to purchase is a win-win situation giving marketers a lead in the marketplace.
comScore also identified ad effectiveness metrics in other parts of the marketing funnel. DCN publisher sites performed 32% better on top funnel metrics, which includes awareness, recall and message association (.56 brand lift vs. .42). The mid-funnel—where consumers have the potential to develop a stronger interest in your brand—performed more than three times as effective for DCN publisher sites with a 1.87 brand lift vs. 0.51. Premium publisher sites can influence the mid-funnel by 255% more effectiveness, a potential accelerator of brand sales. The lower and final part of the funnel includes purchase intent and share of consumer choice metrics. DCN premium publishers performed 9% better on the bottom-funnel metrics (.38 brand lift vs. .35).
We know that the quality of ad inventory and the substantially lower bot traffic on DCN member sites is a positive driving force but the comScore research determined how much of a factor this is in driving higher ad effectiveness. To arrive at the pure value of the “halo effect,” comScore factored these elements out of the equation deriving that DCN publisher sites drive a “halo effect” of 51% higher ad effectiveness.
comScore’s independent research provides a clear message that brands benefit from advertising on premium publisher sites. While the research found that premium publishers perform better across all phases of the marketing funnel, the value in driving mid-funnel metrics is especially important to convert awareness into positive brand consideration. So, while digital continues to create opportunities for targeting and increase opportunities for efficiencies, it is clear that placement within the context of quality environments provides a “halo effect” that drives ad effectiveness.