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Measuring the Effects of Advertising: The Digital Frontier


  • Randall Lewis
  • Justin M. Rao
  • David H. Reiley


Online advertising offers unprecedented opportunities for measurement. A host of new metrics, clicks being the leading example, have become widespread in advertising science. New data and experimentation platforms open the door for firms and researchers to measure true causal effects of advertising on a variety of consumer behaviors, such as purchases. We dissect the new metrics and methods currently used by industry researchers, attacking the question, "How hard is it to reliably measure advertising effectiveness?" We outline the questions that we think can be answered by current data and methods, those that we believe will be in play within five years, and those that we believe could not be answered with arbitrarily large and detailed data. We pay close attention to the advances in computational advertising that are not only increasing the impact of advertising, but also usefully shifting the focus from "who to hit" to "what do I get."

Suggested Citation

  • Randall Lewis & Justin M. Rao & David H. Reiley, 2013. "Measuring the Effects of Advertising: The Digital Frontier," NBER Working Papers 19520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19520
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    6. Brett R Gordon & Kinshuk Jerath & Zsolt Katona & Sridhar Narayanan & Jiwoong Shin & Kenneth C Wilbur, 2019. "Inefficiencies in Digital Advertising Markets," Papers 1912.09012,, revised Feb 2020.
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    10. Bergès, Fabian & Monier-Dilhan, Sylvette, 2012. "Mass Retailers’ Advertising Strategies Faced with Different Competitor Store Formats: Commodity Stores or Hard Discounts," TSE Working Papers 12-277, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising

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