During the development of the Attribution Buyers Guide we heard from marketing professionals at companies large and small. Without exception, they share a very similar frustration. Measuring the effectiveness of marketing and finding the right-time insights to improve the ROI of your marketing spend has never been easy – even when most of our marketing was limited to a few television networks, radio and newspapers. For most, the problem has only gotten more challenging with the explosion of television networks, satellite radio, digital advertising, email, social networks, and the other millions of modern day distractions competing for customer’s attention.
It’s become clear over the past few years that the old ways of measuring the performance of single channels just don’t cut the mustard anymore. Today’s marketing pros are looking to optimize their entire marketing mix and need to understand how each component part may magnify or hinder the impact of others.
Optimizing Marketing in All Places at All Times
Marketing Mix Model’s (MMM) ability to measure all channels, despite its shortcomings, is in fact its primary reason for (still) being. If you’ve read the preceding articles in this series, you’re familiar with the deficiencies of MMM to deliver timely, granular and accurate insights. It’s easier to measure a single channel. Examples include MTAs themselves, which do a good job providing granular insights within digital (albeit some are victim to serious biases). There is an entire category of lift studies providers who measure results from a single channel.
We know, however, that consumers do not consume advertising in a single channel. Measuring a single medium in isolation will miss the ways in which different messages in different media interact. A vendor can miscount the effectiveness of the media they are measuring when the media succeeds only in combination with another media which they might not measure. This has been proven to be a flaw. Specifically, there are documented cases where the digital messages only succeeded in conjunction with a TV message. In this case, the digital media reinforced the TV message. However, looked at from the vantage point of digital only measurement, the marketer would erroneously conclude that cutting TV significantly while increasing digital significantly would have positive results. However, sales would actually go down.
“As our marketing mix expanded we needed a way to see the collective role of different media. Decision-making shouldn’t be political, but all parts of the plan can’t always go up. We found that the only way to make the right decision was with a holistic view of our marketing to understand where to put the next dollar."
- Larry Gamache, Carfax
What’s Working…What’s Not Working…What’s Hindering
With a proper omni-channel measurement, the marketer can see how to slightly reduce frequency while maintaining reach to fuel more spending with digital. A marketer only responsible for a specific media channel may consider a channel specific attribution helpful, but in fact, the nature of consumers interacting with multiple media channels makes it risky. Marketers have expressed frustration because some vendors sell attribution by channel, and do not have truly integrated results. Marketers are frustrated by the costs and confusion resulting from using multiple studies across different channels. Marketers should aspire to implement a common platform across all media channels that applies an apples-to-apples methodology and recognizes the interdependencies of multiple media touching a consumer.
Why This Matters
For channel-level budget planning and optimization, it has been clear to most marketers that they need to understand the relative strengths of media channels using a common yard stick. Using a common methodology to understand digital’s impact on the business as TV’s impact, for instance, avoids subjective and political decision-making regarding performance and budget allocations. It stands to reason that a common methodology allows companies to be data-driven rather than making decisions based on instinct or who has the most influence in the board room. Omni-channel attribution is about more than a common yard-stick. It is about a consumer centric understanding that people are influenced by a combination of messages across multiple media. Without measuring the full picture, marketers can get the wrong answers.
Additional impact is unlocked when optimizations within each channel are made within context of activity in other channels – for example, optimal frequency within mobile might be 4x for a given audience when there’s no TV running, but it might be 2x when there’s a parallel TV campaign running. Industry leaders will have the ability to optimize to those interdependencies and relationships in the years ahead.
What to Ask
- Do you measure person-level impact for traditional / non-digital media channels?
- How do you connect cross-channel media’s impact back to an individual?
There are many tools in the marketplace that measure individual pieces of the marketing puzzle. But it’s become clear that these stand-alone piecemeal solutions have a fatal flaw: They fail to integrate the effect and impact of what’s happening in one channel on the rest of the marketing mix. They cannot detect the rise in your SEM performance that may be driven by a more effective TV creative. They fail to see the decline in online transactions caused by the overzealous email marketing campaign. Those who rely upon these tools will find themselves confounded when anticipated gains in performance fail to materialize.
We hope you’re finding this series of articles about attribution helpful and informative. If you have any questions, or want to suggest a topic, please feel free to contact us. We’re hard at work on the next installment of the Attribution Buyers Guide in which we’ll be discussing the need to find a partner who is independent and not beholden to the performance of any media channel.