1. Problems with media today, viewability, attribution and how investments are done today


An average American sees between 4,000-10,000 ads every day.Consider another figure: the benchmark for display ad engagement in the US is hovering between 0.1%-0.3% – i.e. for an ad exposed to 1,000 people (for which full CPM4 money is paid), only 1 to 3 people engage with the ad.


Viewability is another story. The IAB viewability standard is ‘fulfilled’ if 50% of the ad is visible for 1 sec. There is no easy way of measuring the ‘noticeability’ which gives a better indication of if the ad registered or had any impact. At the same

time, the rise of ad-blockers has meant that the potential reach of display ads is also decreasing. So here is the crux: with the increasing ad pollution, people block out ads (either using ad blockers or their subconscious brain) – thus the cost per %attention of potential consumers has skyrocketed in the last few years (alas, there is no easy

way to measure this).


This leads to an obvious question: if the media landscape is so bad, why aren’t brand managers panicking? Why are they still paying high CPMs? A possible answer lies in the fundamental power of brands and the still existing influence of big brand-big retailer partnership in ensuring people stick to their habits and easily buy their existing brands. The lack of an easy way of figuring out the number of new people entering into the brand franchise, directly attributable to the media spend, has made a measurement of media effectiveness difficult. To top it all, the existing opaque agency commision

models do not help the matters either. Ultimately, this has led to a situation where the objective of media spending is aimed at optimizing easy to measure and

deliver metrics: reach, frequency with annual planning and quarterly reviews. In most cases when one attempts to measure sales impact of such spends, the direct attributed online sales are very low, and the offline sales impact is veiled under the cloud of obscure MMX studies done years ago.




  1. What can we learn from Incumbents, smaller brands


Are there companies that have anticipated and solved this problem? Yes, and no. As one would expect, the people to most vehemently question media effectiveness in the FANG age (and realize the impossibility of using paid media alone to build businesses) were the ones who did not enjoy the luxury of existing consumer bases and good distribution: start-ups.

However, these companies have one thing working for them: they launch product in niches where there is an organic need for the product. As a result, they are able to capture some consumers without much media spend and can then go about

growing their businesses with a carefully managed combination of paid and organic traffic with clear objectives for various media spend activities. Furthermore, there is an inherent bias towards capturing consumers with stated intent – most often found in consumers who are searching for the product or category.




  1. The new Omni channel age


The media landscape is further complicated by the rise of Omni Channel age.


For good or bad, the days of limited, planned shelves are gone/going-fast. Now each consumer has his/her own digital shelf. And while the offline shelf still remains static, the planogram is being increasingly influenced by what sells well online.

The shopping shelves now extend from Google Search, Instagram shoppable ads, Amazon Search – each defined by a search, browse behavior that a consumer exhibits – an infinite combination of infinite shelves.


Rise of ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline):




  1. The strategy to implement



Defining the right objective function for optimization and optimize often:

Organic > Search Paid > Display Paid