Driving Brand Lift via the Exchanges


ADOTAS – For my third installment of this series on the value of the ad exchanges, here’s a real-world example of how the exchanges not only provide good value, but can prove a positive branding component. What started as something of an experiment ended with impressive brand lift for the city of New Orleans, and with a very happy client.

NetSeer, my company, recently partnered with eBrains, a boutique agency with a rich history of running effective marketing programs for the travel industry, to launch an ad campaign on behalf of the New Orleans Travel Marketing Corporation (NOMTC). The campaign was designed to promote New Orleans as a great travel destination for a variety of types of people. All of the inventory was sourced from ad exchanges, particularly Google AdX.

Until this campaign, the NOMTC admittedly was not keen on buying exchange inventory and had shied away from it due to brand safety concerns. Nathan Williams, interactive director for the NOMTC, told us, “We had been a little suspicious of ad exchanges because you have to give up a degree of control over your brand to technology.” Fortunately, we were able to convince them to give the exchanges a try. The campaign was segmented into several target audiences based on interest — e.g. “nightlife,” “culture” and “family.” We then employed our contextual targeting to find a highly relevant, receptive audience for each segment.

As part of this campaign, we also conducted a brand lift study using Vizu. As you’ve likely read in recent articles, the web is “addicted to clicks.” But we know clicks only tell part of the story, which is why we wanted to look at brand lift. We were curious to know if people were getting our message. And we know that clicks don’t always equal effectiveness. The most valuable insight was whether or not the ad campaign on the exchanges was convincing consumers to more favorably consider New Orleans in their upcoming travel plans.

Working in conjunction with Vizu, we established a “control” and an “exposed” group. Both groups were asked the question, “How likely are you to consider New Orleans as a vacation destination within the next 12 to 18 months?” The lift between the control groups (those who hadn’t seen the ad creative) and the exposed (those who had) was 62.1 percent. And, for those indicating that they would be “very likely” to consider New Orleans as a vacation destination, the lift was 70.1 percent.

Vizu has publicly stated that the highest-performing category in their brand lift studies is usually consumer packaged goods. Considering that a 20 to 30 percent lift is regarded as successful, we were thrilled to see the dramatic lift we were able to deliver for New Orleans.

On top of that, we looked at frequency of exposure. Usually, the noise factor kicks in after users have seen ad creative multiple times. In this case, however, we saw lift increase as exposures increased. In fact, lift was up 120 percent for those exposed to the creative 10 or more times.

At the same time, the NOMTC was measuring conversion to visitation rate of the site based on the NetSeer campaign, and the early returns arrived at the same time. And the NOMTC told us that this metric indicated “a much higher impact that they would have expected.” Williams continued by telling us, “In short, we were a little surprised and, naturally, very pleased that this contextual advertising model is working so well.”

NOMTC is just one example of how we are continuing to see success for brands on the exchanges. The proof is in the data, and as you can see, the hidden gems on the exchanges are delivering just what the marketers ordered.


  1. Sounds like a very successful campaign John and that the branding payoff for the client justified giving up a little transparency/control. I know that more and more big brands are finding value in the online ad exchanges which are getting better and better in terms of quality inventory and managing delivery partner quality. Thanks for sharing your case study.


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