European Business Talks to Nick Morley, EMEA Managing Director Integral Ad Science

Competition for consumers’ attention has been heightened by the pandemic. How can business leaders ensure their advertising teams are focused on ad campaigns that maximise engagement?

Nick Morley

Nick Morley: “To maximise advertising success, business leaders should focus on the context in which their ad campaigns appear. While advertisers are aware of the opportunities due to increased consumer engagement, brands are stepping up their brand safety measures during times of social unrest and a pandemic climate.

Most businesses appreciate that context affects how consumers view their brand, with IAS research showing that nearly three-quarters (70%) of UK consumers state that they are more likely to remember an ad when it appears next to contextually relevant content online. To hit the ultimate goal of the right ad, at the correct moment and in the best place, marketing efforts should also recognise and navigate the sentiment of context. Given that almost three-quarters of consumers (73%) state that the positive/negative feeling conveyed in an article impacts their perception of a brand who has advertised alongside it, businesses need a technology partner to enable their brand to not just avoid unwanted associations, but also target investment towards suitable content.

With advanced technologies that blend semantic analysis and natural language processing, a brand can uncover exactly what the words on a webpage mean and how they relate to each other, in real-time and at scale. This allows business leaders to keep advertising options open without putting their brand at risk. For example, in the current situation, that could include distinguishing negative content about coronavirus from stories with a positive sentiment, such as business survival or human kindness.”

Covid-19 has seen ad fraud skyrocket. How can business leaders optimise ads for performance by closely scrutinising the supply chain?

Nick Morley: “It almost goes without saying that problems with ad fraud pre-date today’s disruption. Long before the outbreak, ad fraud was predicted to become the second-greatest source of criminal revenue globally by 2025. But with budgets tightening and advertisers under greater scrutiny than ever, it’s even more important to keep a close watch on ad fraud – from malicious apps, illegal bots and domain spoofing, to its many other forms.

Staying ahead calls for an ‘always-on’ mindset. Business leaders should use tools that employ machine learning in order to constantly monitor abnormal traffic patterns and spot the differences between human and bot behaviour.

To make sure investment is constantly safe from fraudsters, business leaders need to ensure all of this insight comes from a verification technology partner that prioritises ongoing cross-industry collaboration and employs fraud detection experts to understand the latest threats and spots signs of emerging ad fraud. These insights are paramount for both advertisers and publishers to ensure that they are transacting only on genuine inventory.”

How can innovative, up-to-date reporting help business leaders creatively connect with their target audience?

Nick Morley: “Consumers were already feeding their digital media appetite with increasingly diverse content before Covid-19. Not only has consumption risen at an unprecedented rate, but also expanded across a wider range of channels; whether that’s the spike in video streaming services, record numbers listening to podcasts, or the explosion of viral TikTok videos that we hate to love.

For business leaders, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity. There is greater potential to connect with highly receptive audiences, but it’s also harder to keep track of the results that ads generate, or if they have a chance to make any impact at all.

Ads must be seen and not just served to have an impact. But different digital ad formats come with different standards for evaluating viewability — from static desktop display to mobile app video ads — and with more channels comes a greater variety of data. For example, at IAS, part of our viewability measurement also captures exposure time. This helps advertisers evaluate engagement, based upon the theory that good content engages viewers for longer.

To ensure business leaders can translate this data into business outcomes, it is paramount that the digital advertising industry keeps pace with the multi-channel consumer, and a vital part of that is accurate and easily digestible reporting. As well as ensuring access to cross-platform and cross device insight to gain a holistic picture of the context in which ads are appearing online, business leaders need tools that allow them to apply custom metrics aligned with their brand’s needs, whether that be unique brand safety requirements or custom viewability measurement.”