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    Why Incrementality Matters in 2021

    Diksha Sahni
    Posted by Diksha Sahni on February 5, 2021

    Your ad campaign is set up. You have your budget allocated and you choose different marketing channels for your campaign…Now all is left to do, is wait to see the results! But are you really seeing what matters? Are your ads really working to have the right impact?

    Enter incrementality measurement.

    To measure incrementality is to look for what is the real impact of a campaign. We compare the behavior of the target of the campaign - the users that actually saw the campaign on their mobile devices - to the behavior of those who didn't see anything. To wrap your mind around it, it's like when in a medical trial some users get placebo medicine instead of the actual drug they are testing. By comparing the two behaviors, you can conclude what works best for your company.

    We’ll go into more details on measuring incrementality in subsequent posts. Today, we will look into why incrementality measurement matters:

    Counting the right KPIs to measure campaign success 

    When we speak about any conversion measuring campaign, the industry established a clear measuring rod: the cheaper the conversion, the happier the client. Players will try to maximize the number of conversions that come from their campaigns, by adjusting algorithms, improving the targeting rules, and coming up with more appealing formats. We have heard time and again that 320x50 display is the one that works best for CPI campaigns, and it surely is if you want to assign conversions to channels, but is this tiny format really convincing users to download an app? The AdTech ecosystem has relied on counting as many conversions as possible to have the best absolute numbers as opposed to generating value to the client. There is a greater need now to look at the effectiveness of the advertising campaigns as a direct result of the campaign from all sources - and then better allocate their spending. For this, advertisers are looking towards incrementality measurement. A better way to identify advertising channels that may be generating good results purely by playing your attribution system is by actually measuring the results they provide when your ads are served, versus when they are not.

    Consumer journeys are no longer linear

    User-buying journeys between online and offline are becoming more blended. Did the user see an ad online and chose to buy offline? Or whether they look at the product in-store but buy online later after they have made a purchase decision? Understanding incrementality in both online and offline behavior of users can help advertisers to connect the dots in their marketing campaigns. By analyzing how and when customers receive the messages retailers can understand the incremental impact of the advertising channels and allocate resources.

    Users use multiple devices at one time 

    On average, a person uses 4 connected devices and these devices don’t exist in isolation. People consume content in different ways on smartphones, tablets, Connected TV or laptops. A person might see an ad on Connected TV and purchase on a mobile app or in-store. By syncing Connected TV with smartphones within the same household, for example, advertisers can impact users and measure incrementality in a multi-device world. Not only that, incrementality is not limited to the app marketing area: it can be applied to Drive-to-store campaigns. One can measure the incremental visits to stores coming from Connected Tv ads. Meaning you can get an idea of how effective your ads are in an online multi-device world but also within their whole sales ecosystem.

    Use the Optimization automation to its full extent

    Measuring incrementality has evolved from a simple comparison of results to real-time, campaign-based Placebo or Ghost solutions. That will give an unbiased overview of the real impact an ad is making on the user journey. In the real-time data-driven ecosystem, the options open from measuring incrementality this way are endless. Once an AI is learning where the real value of a campaign comes from, the algorithms can make more informed decisions and keep those new sources of users coming. 

    Be smarter about budgets 

    With incrementality, you can optimize not towards just conversions but towards incremental conversions - a true measure of lift created by consumers exposed to your ads. With the pandemic induced crisis, companies are creating smarter budget strategies to be effective about where they put their money. For instance, it can be that a high-paying channel is not bringing any new customers or that more customers are coming from a channel that has a low share in your marketing spend. When you are in control of your user insights, you can choose to have better spending strategies and control marketing budgets such that your ads are more cost-effective. 


    In data-driven advertising, those delivering a higher ROI (cost per conversion) get a bigger budget. Unfortunately, the best-measured ROI is too often delivered by those who manage to attribute a lot of conversions for themselves, not those who provide the highest value. In 2021, a resolution to keep should be to stop wasting budgets and focus on only those conversions that are incremental.

    Topics: incrementality, mediasmart, connected tv