ISBA rebukes IAB's Clickheads ad: 'rip up this campaign before it does any more damage'

IAB's letter to advertisers

Isba, the voice of British advertisers, has voiced its displeasure at a provocative campaign from another UK advertising body, the IAB, which is urging 'clickhead' marketers to adopt better online advertising measurement standards.

The tongue-in-cheek campaign from the Interactive Advertising Bureau sent a letter to more than 100 of the world's biggest brands urging them to move away from "vanity" metrics like clickthrough rates when analysing the effectiveness of their online advertising campaigns.

Coinciding with National Anti-Click-Through Rate Day, the open letter posited that CTR has been used by marketers to justify marketing spend to chief financial officers - but the industry needs to move away to look at longer-term measurement solutions.

It was written from the perspective of CTR calling off a long-term relationship and explained that advertisers should study more closely what happens after a click is made to better measure the situation.

Clare O’Brien, head of media effectiveness and performance at ISBA, issued a retort in defence of advertisers.

"If the IAB thinks that the best route for the digital industry to start providing better and more reflective metrics of effectiveness is to blame the advertisers for the inadequacy of the click as a measure of anything meaningful, they could start by ripping up this campaign before it does their case any more damage,” she stated.

"The notion that advertisers are incapable of understanding how advertising effectiveness and ROI are measured and works is simply not true."

She said PPC and CTR were enforced on advertisers 25 years ago by digital adtech, adding: "Advertisers are already having many meaningful conversations about measurement and would welcome sharing and building on these with the IAB."

IAB UK chief executive Jon Mew has reportedly said: "If you’re only looking at CTR, ads can often 'perform' better in the places you wouldn’t really want your brand to appear: poor-quality content where there’s nothing else to click on or poorly designed pages where it’s easier to accidentally click on an ad.

He suggested: "If you want a clearer idea of the cause-and-effect relationship between ad activity and sales, econometrics – and specifically marketing mix modelling – can be extremely useful. They’re a much better way of measuring cross-channel campaigns and accounting for the part digital plays in the bigger picture."

O'Brien pointed to the ISBA Insight & Effectiveness Group's headway in creating new effectiveness metrics, and published its findings last week.

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