The Importance of Incrementality in Programmatic

April 12, 2023by David Wroten

As marketers and advertisers, we place a great deal of importance on attributing awareness, consideration, and conversions (read: sales, website form fills, phone calls, key page visits, etc.) to our paid campaigns – be it search, social, or programmatic. These help us to tie the performance of our campaigns to the business-level goals of our clients and companies. You may have even presented an insight similar to the below:

“This campaign was a touchpoint for 200 Conversions, leaving us with a CPA of $35 which is within our goals and presents a positive ROI for the marketing effort.”

As advertisers, we love our benchmarks and we do everything we can to hit them. But the inevitable question always comes back: 

“That’s great, but how many of those people were already going to convert anyway? Did we simply deliver an ad to someone who was already going to buy our product?

This question can be tough to answer, and it’s the subject of today’s article: Incrementality. In other words, how can we show that our marketing efforts are actually having a noticeable effect on the consumers we advertise to? If our marketing efforts aren’t actually moving the needle in consumers minds, they’re not worth the money we’re spending on them. So how can we measure the impact of our campaigns on awareness, consideration, and conversions incrementally?

Enter the Lift Study

Lift studies, offered by a number of platforms across digital advertising ecosystems, give a means to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns by showing the increase in awareness, consideration, and conversion from people who have been exposed to your ads vs. those who haven’t. There are two primary means of measuring lift:

  1. Survey Studies – Exposed and Non-Exposed groups are administered a survey during the campaign’s flight to measure lift in awareness, recall, and consideration for your brand.
  2. Data Driven Studies – A portion of your target audience is reserved as a control who will receive no marketing messages and conversion activity is tracked between the control and exposed groups to measure the lift in conversion likelihood. 

Leveraging lift studies is a critical step to measuring the incrementality of your campaigns. They are typically something that has to be put in place before your campaign goes live, as reserve or control audiences are required to get a solid baseline of behavior. 

Here at Ventura Growth, our preferred programmatic DSP has lift studies built into the platform for easy activation across all of your brands and campaigns. Reach out to your performance manager today to ask about lift studies and if they’re right for your brand!

Want to talk about this topic or other programmatic news or even strategic questions?  We’d love to hear from you: