Digital Ad Campaigns Increase, But So Does Dissatisfaction

By Tony Silber

Reposted from

Digital advertising campaigns are rapidly increasing in dollars spent and numbers of advertisers, but there’s a troubling simultaneous decline in advertiser satisfaction, according to new data from the business-intelligence firm Advertiser Perceptions.

The data, from a survey of more than 450 advertisers conducted in May and June, show an erosion in satisfaction in digital-campaign management from a similar survey in 2016.

In other words, advertisers are increasingly unhappy with their publishing-company partners, even as they’re spending more and ramping up their activity.

For example, respondents were asked whether they were happy with their partners’ awareness of their budget and time constraints. Sixty percent said they were, but that number declined from the 64% in 2016. And 57% of respondents said they were satisfied with the CPMs of their campaigns, a decline of five points from the 62% in 2016.

Similarly, 60% of respondents indicated that they believe their partners are proactive about optimizing ad placements for best results, down from 64% in 2016. And just 61% said their campaign met their KPI goals, down from 65% two years ago.

“Two years ago, we focused on the notion that digital campaigns were a challenge to run, but we wanted to quantify it,” says Randy Cohen, CEO of the New York City-based Advertiser Perceptions. “Our expectation was that things would get better, but the converse has happened. As more and more dollars get put into digital campaigns, the problems are greater and things break down more.”

Even as digital campaigns should be more transparent, and much easier to track, there’s a growing disconnect between what the marketer expects and what the agency and publisher are delivering, Cohen says.

Several things underlie the disconnect, Cohen says. First, the agency is seen as the marketer’s advocate-the caretaker of the campaign, responsible for getting the level of performance that the marketer is looking for. But the marketer is increasingly less likely to share the data captured in the campaign. And then, often, the agency and the marketer are not on the same page regarding the campaign’s objectives. “Most of the time agencies are left to manage these things on their own, and shoot at a moving target,” Cohen says.

Agencies, too, share in the blame. They’re generally putting fewer resources into campaign implementation, Cohen says. They’re not training their people effectively enough. And they’re not retaining employees, thus creating a void in institutional expertise.

“Media agencies are not doing themselves any favors on campaign management,” Cohen says. “It’s a challenging time to be a CMO. You have all of these things that get measured, and yet you have all of these processes that break down. So they’re questioning the veracity of what they’re getting from the agencies.”

Ironically, one consequence of this breakdown, Cohen says, is that marketers are moving to the big consultancies like McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, and others for advice. They’re essentially moving back to the old full-service model of the past, where strategy, creative and buying are all under one roof.

Other data points from the Advertiser Perceptions survey:

  • 66% are including native in their campaigns regularly and consider it a key part of their digital strategy.
  • 26% are beginning to adopt native, and 8% are testing it.
  • On average, advertisers are devoting 28% of digital budgets to native and branded content, up from 25% in 2017 and 23% in 2016.