What Is Proof of Performance?

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When it comes to media and advertising, managing schedules and ad placements can be difficult and overwhelming. When an advertiser enters into an agreement with a website or television or radio station, the outlet often gives the advertiser a proof of performance (POP).

This provides advertisers proof that their ads actually ran as expected, fulfilling the requirements of the contract. It's a form of insurance for advertisers, so they know they got what they paid for. 

How are POPs developed?

A POP contains the date, time and station when the ad aired. It usually includes screenshots or clips of how it appeared on air. In radio, audio clips are recorded instead. For print ads, there is usually a tear sheet from the publication to show when it ran. In the growing area of digital advertising, there is not an industry standard for web proof of performance. Some advertisers do not get any POP; others get screenshots of banner ads and weekly figures. Some choose to check the sites themselves.

Who puts together POPs?

Larger advertising outlets often have proof of performance specialists on staff. They are typically assigned a certain number of clients to track. They are responsible for:

  • Reviewing photos of advertising campaigns and reporting any discrepancies or errors
  • Creating compliance reports to send to clients, either using PowerPoint or a program designed specifically to create proof of performance reports
  • Ensure that campaigns meet all contract stipulations and client standards
  • Communicates with other departments to get photos, tear sheets, audio samples of video clips of each ad placement
  • Provides status updates to clients, such as how much of that contract has been fulfilled to date
  • Works with the data or research department to collect results from advertising campaigns, such as the number of ad clicks or increases in web traffic
  • Works with the account managers to collect and report data to build proposals
  • Manage client information and branding guidelines

In smaller outlets, the proof of performance specialist position is usually combined with other roles, such as an account manager or marketing assistant.

Electronic Versus Hard Copy

In years past, proof of performance reports were only available in hard copy form. They often were thick books or stacks of paper, with tear sheets and audio discs from publications and media outlets. This could be cumbersome and annoying for clients, who were looking for assurance their needs were being met and that they were getting results for their expenditures.

In recent years, hard copy proof of performance reports are no longer common. Most companies have made the shift to digital versions, taking advantage of online and cloud access to share media reports and link​s to ads as they are posted. This streamlines the process significantly for both advertisers and outlets or agencies, as everything can be done digitally and edited, without having to worry about mailing completed reports or sifting through piles of paperwork. New companies have been launched to meet this growing demand, offering dynamic proof of performance creation services, where outlets can create visually engaging reports quickly and easily.