Social Ads Continue to Outperform Networks and Exchanges in Delivering High-Quality Audiences

November 25, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Tablet | Video

NeustarAK-Media-Spend-Efficiency-Comparison-in-Q3-Nov2013During Q3, social again beat portals, networks, and exchanges in user quality index ”“ a measure that refers to a channel’s ability to reach a user that can be marketed to consistently ”“ according to the latest quarterly “Global Media Intelligence Report” [download page] from Neustar Aggregate Knowledge. Based on an analysis of roughly 140 billion ad events, 60 billion impressions and 32 million conversions, the study reveals that social ads performed 34% better than the 4-channel average in delivering such quality users. Social also emerged as the best option for reaching exclusive users at the lowest cost.

On the measure of “reach efficiency,” social ads scored 82% higher than the average, leading the pack for the first time this year. Portals – which had been the most efficient channel during the first half of the year – performed far more poorly in this past quarter, 66% below the channel average.

The significant shift for portals comes due to a higher-than-average cost. During Q3, portals emerged as the least cost-effective channel (cost in relation to driving impressions, clicks, and conversions), with an index of 450, compared to indices of -50 for social, -150 for exchanges, and -250 for networks. That marks the first time this year that social ads have been cheaper than the industry average – and that portals over-indexed the average.

The study also demonstrates – yet again – that a pure last-touch attribution model underestimates the value of social. When using a multi-touch attribution model instead of a last-click model, the results indicate that social sees its value increase the most, while exchanges lose a great deal of worth, given that they are predominantly in the lower end of the funnel.

Other Findings:

  • Ad impressions on video networks grew by 15.4% quarter-over-quarter in Q3, while clicks (+72.8%) and click revenue (+48.4%) grew even more rapidly.
  • Mobile ad impressions soared by 288% quarter-over-quarter, but were not matched by increases in clicks (-11%) or impression-to-click ratio (-77%). As the study authors note, this indicates that mobile users are seeing ads, but remain reluctant to take action on them.

About the Data: For the Neustar Aggregate Knowledge (AK) Media Intelligence Report, data was compiled from a representative sample of its customer base. This includes 60 billion impressions, accounting for 45 percent of AK’s total impression volume across approximately 140 billion ad events.

The methodology for data collection, analysis, and reporting consisted of multiple steps. Data was collected through the AK “pixel” (or “tag”), which was then ingested by the AK MIP using AK’s proprietary Summarizer technology. A team of data scientists then worked with the platform, querying the AK MIP for channel-based performance and cost data, as well as targetability, overlap, and exclusive reach metrics. Raw event data was also reviewed for converting users to see whether or not those users had seen an ad on a particular channel (or combination of channels) further upstream, providing additional insight beyond that exposed by last-touch attribution.

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