the weight of measurement

On the Agenda


The Growing Complexity of Marketing Measurement

Marketers face various challenges when it comes to measuring their activations - how are agencies supporting their clients to understand campaign performance?

By Stephen Lepitak and Dani Gibson

An ongoing issue facing the global advertising community is one that currently has no end in sight.

Marketers are struggling to get to grips with measurement practices during a period of uncertainty when it comes to the seemingly never-ending demise of third-party cookies. Add to that the introduction of new regulations around their company’s sustainability reports as well as how they introduce AI and influencers into the mix.

On top of everything else demanded of their roles, that's a whole new playing field to oversee.

According to a report released by WARC titled The Future of Measurement, there is a need for evolution in the marketing measurement space, however, only 2 per cent of marketers are currently using attribution, experiments and marketing mix modelling together to measure marketing impact. A further 22 per cent say they don’t use any modelling at all.

Meanwhile, just over half (51 per cent) of marketers said they were prepared for the deprecation of third-party cookies. Those who are not will have welcomed Google’s latest delay in phasing them out – now due for early 2025, if ever, instead.

"Simply put, marketing is not just marketing anymore."

Michelle Taite, chief marketing officer for Intuit Mailchimp

Luke Forshaw, head of marketing in the UK for technology marketplace Back Market admits that the removal of cookies was making plans a lot harder but on the other hand, the need for consumer privacy is more important.

“Given the breadth of platforms and options, measuring marketing effectiveness is tricky. Especially in an ever-changing ad landscape,” he continues.

“Simply put, marketing is not just marketing anymore,” says Michelle Taite, chief marketing officer for Intuit Mailchimp. “It’s a craft that now incorporates creativity, data, and analytical rigor to fuel performance. Marketers’ success is dependent on their ability to interpret data and creatively exploit it to predict and influence customer actions.”

Marketers may not have the bandwidth, expertise, or tools to be able to analyse customer data or performance metrics even if they have access to them, Taite explains, judging by what she has seen and heard from her own customers.

When it comes to the addition of AI into routines, Taite advises that marketers make time to experiment and data crunch, creating regular analysis and data that helps to identify trends and get ahead of the competition.

“Put the data that you do have to work for you rather than focusing on the data you don’t have, and act on that data consistently. I believe that AI gives marketers the ability to refine their marketing strategies and more accurately anticipate trends and measure performance. When paired with thoughtful human guidance, AI can be an equalizer and an accelerator, ultimately allowing marketers to evaluate, understand, and decide more quickly than ever before,” she continues.

We asked creative agency executives what they are seeing changing for marketers and to explain how they are supporting their clients during these major shifts in metric management as well as sharing insights on their own measurement strategies.

Mike Jenkins, director of growth and innovation at FCB London

There is no point producing work if it doesn’t grow our clients’ business. Whether it’s customer awareness, market share, or establishing a strong brand identity, we’re in the business of using creativity to drive growth. And to demonstrate this, measurement is of critical importance to ensure our work effectively impacts our clients’ bottom line. 

GDPR and the shift to being more cognisant of privacy has made it harder to track consumers – but the hard work that needs to be put in can and will provide better results.

Now is the time to test and innovate. This shift in the landscape should be seen as an opportunity rather than a hinderance for brands and their agencies. For the brands that do this well there is the chance to outperform their competitors. Collecting first-party data should be a complete no-brainer – but for consumers who have become savvier and understand the value of their own data what can you offer them in exchange? Realistically a regular newsletter isn’t enough – it needs to be more compelling.

As agency partners, we must stay ahead of both technological and regulatory changes for our clients. It's our responsibility to not only respond to current challenges but also anticipate future ones, ensuring that we offer proactive solutions. We need to invest in training our staff in new measurement techniques and technologies.

Ultimately, we need to put our money where our mouths are and prove the value we provide our client's business with information data-driven strategies.

Flora Joll, head of strategy, BMB

At BMB we say the most human brand wins. However, what constitutes a win can look slightly different depending on the problem you set out to solve with your campaign – be that a communication, business or human success.  One example was Breast Cancer Now’s campaign ‘That Chat’: We had metrics as part of our approach but success here was only quantifiable up to a certain point. Above and beyond hitting numbers, the campaign created a world first (a WhatsApp drama), generated positive attention and momentum for the business, we all got to go on make more work that matters to us as humans at BMB – and most importantly, it opened up positive outlets for conversation and communication about breast cancer.

Traditional metrics have their place but immeasurable things like trust, collaboration, and shared belief in investing in the long term are just as important in getting to and demonstrating great work.

Jess Street, Insights Director, MullenLowe

When I ask ChatGPT “What should advertising do?” it tells me; “advertising should aim to inform, persuade, and influence consumers to purchase a product or service”.

Boring.

As with most AI at the moment, what we’re missing is the emotions, the feeling - how should advertising make us feel about what we are seeing? Because if we are informing, persuading or influencing someone to do something then we also want them to have an opinion, a thought, or a feeling about why they should do it.

To measure the success and effectiveness of a creative campaign we need to ensure that we use the right metrics for that particular campaign. Traditional ‘reach’ should not be a key objective for measuring the success of a campaign for a creative agency. You may have the best creative campaign for your target audience, but if you have a poor media plan, there’s no point to that creative if it isn’t seen by your audience. Conversely, you may have an excellent media plan, but poor creative, which could mean high reach but low engagement if the creative didn’t resonate with the intended audience.

Obviously, a great (or not so great) creative campaign can generate reach from conversations - particularly in the digital landscape. However, isn’t the point of most of our advertising to promote a product/service or highlight a need and therefore either make our clients money by increasing their revenue or drive a behavioural change? For example; on the NHS we used a metric for enrolments as a success indicator of the campaign. Therefore, the metrics that are more relevant for the creative space should include; image, reputation, consumer behaviour and intent. We also need to consider how the message is received on each platform and discipline and improve our understanding of how all communications impact a brand/business.  

In my previous Insight roles at media agencies, we routinely included pre and post-campaign studies to track effectiveness using a range of metrics, and while we were able to prove the reach of a campaign - an increase in advertising/brand awareness or recall of media placements. If other ‘softer’ metrics like consideration or impression remained the same (or decreased) then we would often look to the creative to understand if the advertisement itself was ineffective. For example, we would look deeper into the creative components - did the audience remember the message/tagline? Did people like/dislike the creative,? Did it inspire them to find out more? And what words/phrases do they say about the brand once exposed to the creative?

There’s more that creative agencies can be doing to own this space (and not just rely on the media agencies to prove it) - such as pre-and-post/brand uplift surveys or social listening with a focus on the specifics of the desired outcome of the creative message. How should the advert leave people feeling? What should they remember? How should it make them feel towards the brand? And what action should they take as a result of seeing it?

While we should be aligned and integrated with media agencies to ensure we measure the effectiveness of the campaign as a whole, there’s perhaps a hierarchy of this measurement:

  • Functional: Are we reaching people? Are they seeing the campaign and where?

  • Feeling: What sentiment/emotion is evoked as a result of seeing this campaign?

  • And at the top, behaviour change: What action is the audience taking as a result of seeing this campaign?

Also, let’s not forget the windows in which we measure the metric - just because Consideration hasn’t shifted 10 percentage points in two months does not mean the campaign is a failure. We need to be all on the same page; with the clients, the media, the PR, the social, with what the objective is and how we realistically measure success.

Each campaign deserves its own set of ‘success’ metrics, and it’s up to us to have those conversations with the client on what that looks like. And if you ask AI what that success in advertising looks like, it gives you 10-pointers, none of which are emotive.

We should be embracing multiple tools to help us evaluate success - as well as our own bespoke uplift studies, we can also tap into emotions measured by effectiveness suppliers to help support, such as YouGov BrandIndex - for measuring against competitors and including buzz or word of mouth, System1 - for emotional responses, or BrandWatch - for understanding the social conversations.

While we may have a little bit of AI help in these measurements, advertising needs to do more than AI thinks it should.

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