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How to Fix Ad Measurement With Incrementality Testing and Experiments

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How to Fix Ad Measurement With Incrementality Testing and Experiments

While advertising attribution has always been a thorny path for marketers to navigate, events of the past 18 months have caused a significant upheaval in media measurement that must be addressed quickly – for the sake of all parties involved.

It’s convenient to blame the collapse in advertising measurement on policy changes made by Apple and Google, but social media platforms have always used flawed last-touch attribution to report on campaign performance. By counting every conversion an ad was in the path of, platforms ignored the fact that some of those events would have happened anyway. 

Before iOS 14.5 and ATT, incrementality testing consistently proved many platforms were overreporting conversions, but it was mostly ignored because last-touch metrics made them look good. The amount of extra credit could vary widely by audience type – think prospecting (mild) vs. retargeting (heavy). Advertisers were either unaware of the inaccuracies, or turned a blind eye because it made them look good too.

Now, due to increasing data privacy restrictions, social media platforms are losing the ability to track conversions for a significant segment of users, causing them to begin underreporting conversions using that same broken last-touch system of measurement.

 

Many organizations are working to solve for the loss of visibility through ID alternatives or revamped attribution modeling but these approaches – challenged with effectiveness and lingering privacy concerns – could be years off from becoming a reality. Advertisers need relief right now.

Incrementality testing can prove the value of ad campaigns on social media platforms, even when their own measurement systems cannot. Regardless of how dire the prognosis for cookies becomes, incrementality measurement will continue to be effective – and it already exists.

Anchored on first-party data and cohort-based analytics, incrementality measurement is unaffected by inevitable policy changes because it doesn’t require tracking at the user-level to produce reliable results. Independent of platform bias and rooted in proven experiment methodology, testing for incrementality can provide ongoing insight at a tactical level so advertisers can continuously move dollars to where they drive the greatest business impact.

We work with 100+ DTC brands, and every single one of them has some level of media budget being invested into Facebook. Some advertisers we work with are using incrementality testing to justify continued or increased investment in Facebook, knowing their campaigns are performing better than Facebook attribution would lead them to believe. For luxury brand Shinola, incrementality experiments recently revealed Facebook was underreporting performance of prospecting campaigns by 413%.

Other brands want to diversify away from steadily rising Facebook ad costs and are using incrementality experiments to test and scale into new channels like TikTok, Snap, Pinterest, or CTV. With incrementality and geo testing, marketers can spend a small fraction of budget to understand how pushing into new channels will pay off. 

While decisions by Apple, Google and others can and do have a significant impact on the media industry (and all the businesses that operate within it), when it comes to platform attribution, they have simply exposed a broken system of self-reporting that never should have been acceptable in the first place.

Incrementality testing and experimentation can finally put to bed a decades-long struggle, for platforms and marketers alike, to become the standard advertising measurement approach that is useful, lasting and acceptable for everyone involved.

Read the new guide, Incrementality Measurement for DTC Marketers, to learn how incrementality testing works and how to set up your own experimentation practice today.


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Adobe Highlights Rising Visual Trends in 2024 Creative Trends Report

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Adobe Highlights Rising Visual Trends in 2024 Creative Trends Report

Looking for creative inspiration for your 2024 strategic planning?

This will help. Today, Adobe has published its annual Creative Trends Report, which incorporates insights from Adobe’s 30 million+ Creative Cloud users, in order to determine rising visual styles of interest, which look set to resonate with audiences in the new year.

Based on its research, the Adobe team has established four creative trends that are worthy of note:

  • Calming Rhythms – Fluid and flowing forms that soothe the senses and support emotional balance
  • Wonder and Joy – Visuals that inspire a sense of awe, joy, and enchantment
  • Dynamic Dimensions – Where all dimensions and types of content seamlessly merge
  • The New Nostalgia – Contemporary interpretations of vintage styles

Adobe’s 22-page report, which you can download here (with email sign-up), provides more insight into each of these trends, along with various examples, and data that explains why they’re set to gain more momentum.

There are handy notes and insights for each, which help to illustrate how to use them in your process.

Adobe 2024 Creative Trends Report

Interestingly, a lot of the images used by Adobe in the report look like they’ve been created by generative AI. I don’t know that they have, but it is worth noting the composition in this regard, as another potential means to tap into these trends.

Adobe 2024 Creative Trends Report

The report provides some interesting perspective on rising visual trends, which could help in your planning. Maybe one of these resonates especially well with your branding, or aligns with what your target audience has been sharing.

Either way, some additional, data-backed considerations, which could be helpful in your process.

You can download Adobe’s “2024 Creative Trends Report” here.

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Elon Musk’s X and Amazon discuss potential collaboration

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Elon Musk’s X and Amazon discuss potential collaboration

In a significant development in the social media industry, Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, is reportedly engaging in preliminary discussions …

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Threads Looks Set to be Made Available to European Users Next Week

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Threads Looks Set to be Made Available to European Users Next Week

Good news with EU social media fans, with Threads looking set for a December 14th launch in the region, just in time to capitalize on holiday engagement.

As reported by The Verge, EU Instagram users can now access a countdown timer at www.threads.net, which seemingly indicates the exact time for the upcoming EU launch. Meta hasn’t made any official announcement, but the countdown clock is only visible to European users, while EU users can also search ‘ticket’ in the Instagram app to find a digital invitation to Threads.

Which replicates the original Threads launch back in July, which included similar Easter eggs and indicators pointing to the launch date (like the above).

The EU launch of Threads has been delayed by evolving EU data privacy regulations, which, due to the timing of the implementation of these new rules, has put additional development burden on the Threads team to ensure compliance with the new parameters. Amid the initial Threads launch, Instagram (and Threads) chief Adam Mosseri said that it could take “many months” for Threads to reach EU users due to these additional complications.

But we have since seen indicators that Threads is coming.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta had an established plan to launch Threads to EU users in December, while app researchers have found various references to an upcoming “Threads EU Launch” in the app’s code.

Threads EU launch

Given the various strands of evidence, it does indeed seem likely that European users will get access to the app next week. And again, with social media usage increasing during the holiday break, that would also provide the best opportunity for Meta to capitalize on its opportunities.

Which are seemingly on the rise. As more people turn away from Elon Musk’s X project, largely due to Musk’s own divisive commentary, they’re seeking a real-time social alternative, and for many Threads is already filling that void.

That’s especially true for journalists, a common target of Musk’s attacks, who are now establishing new networks within the Threads ecosphere. And while live sports engagement remains high on X, Threads is also making a push to win over more sports communities, even placing ads courtside during the new NBA in-season tournament showcase in Las Vegas.

Threads NBA ad

That’s seemingly prompting more sports fans to post in the app, which will expand again with the arrival of potentially millions more users in the EU region.

So how many more users can Threads expect to gain as a result of its European expansion?

Based on Meta’s EU disclosure data on active users, Instagram currently serves some 259 million monthly active users in Europe.

Instagram’s total, official user count is 1 billion MAU, while Threads now has over 100 million monthly users. So presumably, around a tenth of active IG users are also signing up to the app, which would mean that, at a rough estimate, we’re set to see around 25.9 million new Threads users incoming, if/when Threads is launched in the EU region.

Which is probably not as many as you might expect, but this is based on rough estimates, as Instagram reportedly has more than a billion actives now, and we don’t know the exact, current user counts of either app.

But either way, it will expand the conversation in the app, and enable more people to take part, which has its own expanded benefits. And with around 60 million X users also in the region, that could see a number of them looking to make the switch.

Which is the real aim here. Meta has created Threads as the X alternative, aiming to scoop up former Twitter cast-offs who are unhappy with Elon’s changes at the app. In order to do that, Threads needs to be available in all regions where X users may be looking to jump ship, so its EU expansion is another critical step in this respect.

It’ll be interesting to see what Threads user numbers rise to over the holiday period, and whether it can indeed become a genuine rival for X in total active engagement.

We’ll keep you updated on any official announcement on the Threads EU launch.



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