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Interview: COI Team Head for Digital Marketing Harry Davies

Harry Davies
COI Team Head for Digital Marketing Harry Davies will speak at AOP’s Research Forum - increasing audience value and proving effectiveness, on 18 November.

Ahead of the event, we got his view on how effectively publishers are making use of data, the essential metrics that prove the effectiveness of research and how online audience insight will be conducted in future.

Tickets for this event are just £40+vat for AOP members – find out more and book your place online.

How effectively are publishers providing insight that shows the value of their audiences and sites and how can this be improved?

Some publishers are really good at supplying us with demographic information on their audiences. Where we need more information is on the lower socio-demographic groups and life stage, habits etc. It is very useful to know things like: How many of your audience smoke? Does your audience have children? Are they unemployed? Do they go out drinking?

How important is integrating online and offline data and what are the challenges and opportunities of doing so?

This is one of the biggest things we are struggling with at the moment. We try to be media neutral in our planning, but it is very difficult not having a way of comparing online and offline simply.We have run a number of econometric research projects with our clients to try and solve some of these issues, but this requires at least 18 months worth of data, and it is difficult to get relationships at a site or network level. They are generally useful to say TV has driven search, and PR is more important than we thought!

We are currently pitching a project to pull the way we evaluate everything together, so hopefully we will be closer to the solution, but it is very difficult, and if any one has a silver bullet we would be interested in hearing from them!

In your opinion, how effectively is the data that currently exists being used by publishers, advertisers and agencies?

The current data is being used relatively well. Where I think the entire industry is missing a trick is in getting better at sharing our information. Often, and we are fairly bad at this too, each campaign's results go into a silo that is not used for other campaigns.

One of the reasons this happens, is that we generate such a high volume of reports and metrics, that we can't easily identify what went well and what didn't. It is frustrating for COI, as advertisers, that we don't have standardised metrics that we can compare all our campaigns with.

What do you think are the essential metrics are that prove the effectiveness of ROI?

Often the advertising we do at COI is aimed at long term behaviour change, so it is difficult to assess the success of a campaign based on traditional online metrics.

One thing that we are very interested in is in testing the shift a campaign makes to attitudes. We have done this by serving an awareness tracking survey to a group of people that we know have seen the advert, and the same survey to a group we know haven't.

This kind of research will play a greater part in what we do, as our advertising moves away from driving clicks to websites, and is more about giving people rich experiences. This is true of the work we do in adding content to partner sites, however we can test the effectiveness of that by looking at the page views, comments, repeat visits etc.

On our more traditional direct response campaigns it is important to link the serving of the advert to the website journey, and into the CRM database. This is something we are getting better at, and will lead to us planning our campaigns based of the value of the activity at the bottom of the funnel.

How do you think future research into online audiences will be conducted and what results should we expect to see?

I hope to see more intelligent surveys to show the shift of awareness due to online advertising. It would be really great if the more qualitative surveying was fused with the quantitative metrics and the behavioural tracking to give a rounded view of audiences so that we can talk to them as individuals.

This, however, has big risks as it could be seen as infringing on people's privacy. The more information we can get, so we can serve the right message to the right person at the right time is great in my book.

Tickets for this event are just £40+vat for AOP members – find out more and book your place online.

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