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Is 99% of Your Media Missing the Forest for the Trees?

 Is 99% of Your Media Missing the Forest for the Trees?
Jonah Cait

As marketers, we’ve long been stuck focusing on misleading metrics that capture a sliver of our audience — the infamous ~1% of ‘clickers’.

Simply stated, our measurement paradigms are dated and it’s time for a change in perspective. After all, if we believe in the power of advertising, shouldn’t more of our attention be on the quality of our upper to mid-funnel spending?

Les Binet and Peter Field have long argued in “The Long and the Short of It” for a balanced approach between immediate results and sustainable growth. Yet, many in our industry remain laser-focused on those who click, neglecting the broader impact of their campaigns through the lens of incrementality.

By prioritizing clicks, we’re missing the forest for the trees.

It’s not just about who clicks but about the quality of the impressions we serve to the 99%+ who don’t. These impressions — the bulk of our advertising spend—are where the true potential for brand growth and customer engagement lies.

As it relates to clicks and last click attribution, we need to be mindful of who stands to benefit. On a recent interview with AdExchanger, Andrew Covato had this to say:

Beyond being an antiquated approach to measurement, Covato says, it’s also “very dangerous.” The only thing last click is efficient at doing, he says, is transferring ad dollars from the pockets of advertisers into the coffers of large ad platforms.

In short, platforms adore measurement paradigms that they can directly influence – as a means to justify continued or increased spending. However, these metrics (clicks, click based attribution, view based attribution) can be gamified and often do not correlate to incrementality.

So where else can we explore?

The concept of viewability, while appealing, doesn’t tell the whole story. Just because an ad is in view doesn’t mean it makes an impact. A page could be cluttered with many ‘viewable ads’, yet your attention is elsewhere.

True engagement comes from capturing attention — not just fleeting glances but meaningful interactions. That’s where attention metrics come into play. These metrics offer a richer understanding of how ads perform by measuring engagement, ad size, and the quality of the page environment.

Sometimes media planning can feel like it’s rinse and repeat…

But it’s time to challenge the status quo and reconsider where we focus our efforts. Let’s revolutionize our approach to metrics and invest in strategies that elevate the brand and don’t just chase after the elusive click.

Let’s make media matter. For everyone.

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