Marketers and agencies must investigate the relevant counterfactual to advertising
exposure to assess advertising effectiveness
. Ghost ads can compare exposed and non-exposed consumers to measure ad-related behavior changes.
What are Ghost Ads?
Ghost ads are a great way to measure ad effectiveness or incrementality (the lift or increase in desired outcome through marketing) because they allow brands to see how their ad is received by two distinct consumer groups: those targeted and those who would have seen it organically.
Leveraging Ghost Ads for Causal Ad Measurement:
Here is why leveraging ghost ads to measure ad-related behavioral changes is a great idea:
You don’t need to invest additional funds to create a control group
You can have extensive reach within the DSP (demand-side platform)
You can measure behavior for all formats such as mobile, audio and CTV
Ghost Bidding: Mapping Consumer Behavior:
In ghost bidding, a DSP platform accepts auctions for ad placements on publisher websites/apps/connected devices and bids on them. It records whether the auction was won (and the ad displayed). Before bidding, the platform assigns the user ID to a control or exposed group. For control group users, the bid is withdrawn so that no ad was shown during the study.
This creates two identical groups, one that saw the ad and one that didn’t. You can then compare the test and control groups' website purchases, landing page visits, etc. Over a period of time, it is possible to record large effect sizes across several behaviors.
A Large U.S-based Apparel Company Measured Their Ad Incrementality Using Ghost Ads:
Using ghost ads and ghost bidding, a U.S based apparel company measured its ad incrementality. Over 21 million unique individuals saw the company’s ads over a 15 month period, for an average of around 35.4 ads per individual. The exposed group had a 1.42% greater chance of visiting the site, for a topline lift of 54.9%, compared to the ghost ad viewers. With this information, the company was able to optimize its advertising campaigns
on the flu to have a bigger impact on its audience.
Cost-per-click, cost-per-site-visit, and other metrics used by marketers don't show any change in advertising behavior. Ghost Ads are the most cost-effective way to analyze digital marketing campaigns' causality.