Brands Turn to Incrementality as the Gold Standard: Navigating Ad Spend’s True Impact at Advertising Week New York

Incrementality took center stage at Advertising Week New York earlier this week, as brands seek a deterministic approach when linking their ad spend back to business outcomes.

The growing emphasis on incrementality is likely due to stricter budgeting in digital advertising, as CMOs grapple with changing consumer behavior, the phase out of third-party cookies, and increasing privacy regulation. At Advertising Week New York, industry leaders from Attain, DoubleVerify, and PMG Advertising Agency underscored its significance.

“We see incrementality as the holy grail of measurement,” Lora Parker, VP of media services at PMG Advertising Agency, said during a panel at Advertising Week New York.”Impressions are one thing, but if those impressions don’t lead to a sale, they might as well not exist. Brands, now more than ever, are looking for a clear sign that their message is not just being seen, but leading to conversions.”

Consider incrementality to hosting a party: you invite 10 friends but 40 arrive. While you can account for those you personally invited, determining who came because of your initial guests and who just heard about the gathering is the challenge. And with global digital ad spend expected to reach $1 trillion next year, determining the true impact of each advertising dollar becomes even more critical.

As marketers navigate changing privacy rules and the diminishing role of third-party cookies, understanding incrementality offers a direct way to measure ROI. “In an era where every penny counts and data becomes both an asset and a challenge, incrementality provides that nuanced lens for marketers,” said panelist Daniel Slotwiner, who is head of attention at DoubleVerify. “It’s not just about understanding who sees our message, but comprehending the real value brought about by that interaction. As the stakes get higher, so does the need for precision in our measurements.”

A path forward

In a nod to these sentiments, a recent collaboration between DoubleVerify and Attain garnered significant attention. Reported by Ad Age last week, the two companies have formed a “first of its kind” partnership to link attention metrics of digital advertising directly to real-time sales outcomes. The initiative aims to bridge the gap created by the declining utility of third-party cookies and other personal identifiers, providing advertisers with tangible insights into how their campaigns influence sales and other conversion metrics.

“The digital advertising landscape is constantly shifting, and with it, our metrics for success. Incrementality isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a call for a deeper understanding of performance,” moderator Brian Mandelbaum, CEO of Attain, said during the panel. “As we move into an era where media optimization and performance intertwine, we must ask: are we truly optimizing for the outcomes that matter most to brands?”

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