Measuring success across an entire customer journey has never been more hotly debated than now. Media expert Matt Nesbitt explains how and why.
Navigating a fragmented landscape
With the lurking third party cookie deprecation and the eradication of business silos, to increasingly fragmented media landscapes and businesses trying understand what post-pandemic performance is for them – for many brands, robust measurement frameworks are as essential as the activation itself and this is leading to organisations upping their game in measurement.
As part of this movement, media measurement is increasingly under scrutiny and while in the past the level of how effective media measurement has been generally dictated by budget spend, and still does to a certain extent, many businesses are looking for ‘better’ best practice in how to make media measurement more accountable.
So what does best practice media measurement look like today – regardless of budget?
A fundamental is that for media and marketing to be truly accountable it needs to be able to be reported on against a client’s overall business metrics. Measurement that can ladder media metrics and indicators back to business performance, or contextualise them in a way that is meaningful, means more budget will be spent in the right place and it will help to create better strategies.
To make the media measurement aligned, there needs to be two core elements. First, having a culture in place (across client and agency) that values and champions effectiveness. Second, activating measurement strategies to try and gain understanding.
Both clients and agencies should be working together to ensure that everyone is crystal clear on what success looks like for all campaigns and planning to be based on business outcomes versus individual KPIs.
All stakeholders and a true collaboration between client teams and agencies is key here, ’seeing is believing’, and this should result in activity being activated within robust visible and clear measurement frameworks, and measurement itself being naturally thought of as a valuable part of a marketing budget, as opposed to an expense that is taking away from media spend.
From an actual activation point of view, this can be harder as this is where budget may need to be allocated and the size of client, marketing budget, available data, etc. all become factors impacting which measurement techniques are actually activated.
There is not one approach that will give you the answers to everything, meaning that true understanding can only come from layering up insights to form a triangulation point on the truth. This often comes in the form of looking at data across long, medium and short-term time frames and then layering insights from different approaches to come to an overall conclusion.
Whilst budget is often the biggest factor at play when deciding what measurement techniques are relevant, a low budget should not be a reason for not measuring media activity. There are a number of measurement possibilities across a range of budget levels which will help to give a picture of what media activity is doing.
Exploring the possibilities
As before, a lot depends on what the client is trying to achieve, but below are some examples across different budget levels. These are based on how much someone is willing to invest in measurement (not related to their actual media budget) and is not an exhaustive list.
Low Measurement Spend (potentially £0) - Media Delivery Benchmarks; Media Owner Incrementality Tests and Share of Search.
Using category and industry benchmarks to contextualise media delivery is a great way of helping to get an idea of whether or not media is actually performing how it ‘should’ be. These delivery metrics will not give the full picture of what is happening, however properly contextualising them for a client is the minimum we should be doing when it comes to campaign activation and measurement.
Metrics such as reach, clicks, engagement, etc. are all initial indicators of campaign performance which should not be underestimated. The drawback here is that it does not easily translate into business metrics and therefore can be hard for clients to quantify internally. This is where adding the wider context mentioned above becomes key.
Using media owner studies to do the heavy lifting is a great way of making media spend go further. These are available across a range of platforms and are very common across the majority of digital environments (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Finecast, etc) where creating holdout audience samples is relatively simple.
The idea here is that – assuming media spend hits a minimum level – the study is added value and can help to give an idea of media incrementality by showing the difference in performance for a chosen objective (e.g. brand metrics, etc) for an exposed audience and an unexposed audience.
Share of search is a fashionable approach at the moment but is a great way of starting to get a gauge on where a client sits amongst their market. It can often be used as a proxy for share of market and – as the data can be taken from Google Trends – is a great way of helping give valuable MI to a client that may not be able to afford to do in-depth market analysis. Monitoring this over time and observing how it changes in line with media investment is another way of starting to get top-line indicators of success.
Medium Measurement Spend (£5K - £20K) – Brand Tracking, Regional Testing
Brand tracking allows us to go beyond media metrics and start understanding what a client’s audience actually thinks of the brand and where they sit in the market versus a number of factors. Using this granular insight helps understand what is important to consumers and therefore what the client needs to prioritise in their messaging if they are to start positively shifting perceptions. Combining this with wider factor analysis can be a great way of turning broad data sets into actionable themes.
Regional / incrementality testing is the same idea as the media owner studies mentioned above, but run by specific measurement teams and focussed on the incremental impact of media on client’s business data (e.g. sales). Proving the incremental impact of media is key if we are to continue to develop plans and understand whether a channel is worth the investment.
High Measurement Spend (>£25K) – Econometrics
Econometrics is the gold standard of media measurement; this is often the technique that allows clients and agencies to properly answer questions about the overall make-up of where a client’s performance (e.g. sales) are coming from (across short and long-term). Without complex modelling such as this it is hard to build a full picture of everything that is impacting business performance and thus make holistic decisions.
Overall, there are a host of measurement techniques out there, more of which are being created and refined as we become awash with more data than we’ve ever had before.
If we are to help clients meet their objectives and ensure media investment is as useful as possible we need to ensure that accountability, and therefore effective, relevant measurement, is at the heart of what we do.