“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris Bueller is a fictional character, but his point is well taken. Advertising itself is a poster child for a fast moving world. The days of John Wanamaker claiming to know that half his advertising is wasted are long past. In the twenty-first century, nearly all marketers profess to measure their marketing value in some way. The question is whether these marketers are measuring throughout their campaigns or upon the conclusion of their campaigns.
In many cases, marketing effectiveness measurement is a post-campaign process. Especially for slow moving brand affinity and attribute perceptions, marketing effectiveness is determined via a regular tracking study or via pre/post quantitative research. However, the advertiser who monitors their media in real time and optimizes based on results can potentially achieve multiples of conversion success over the advertiser who only measures campaigns.
Back-end Measurement versus Mid-Campaign Measurement
One of the primary ways to measure campaigns is via marketing mix models, which utilize weekly marketing activity by channel to mathematically model sales related to those activities. Marketing mix models for a time were considered the “gold standard” of measurement. However, these models are expensive and backward-looking, as they rely on years of past expenditure data. They are rarely granular enough to provide recommendations for the highly fragmented media world of today.
Another leading approach is to measure consumer attitudes and opinions, either on a pre/post basis or on an ongoing tracking basis. With non-direct-response marketers wanting to shape consumers’ brand affinity, an ongoing brand tracker or A&U study can provide clues as to how well advertising is delivering the selling message to the targeted consumer.
In contrast, mid-campaign measurement evaluates each consumer touchpoint in near real time. It allows optimization of messaging, media vehicle, and budget allocation based on consumer response to those elements.
Types of Mid-Campaign Measurement
Most performance-based marketers are used to mid-campaign measurement. Direct response marketers track responses to TV ads via phone and website orders and choose media environments and messages based on those responses. It isn’t always a terribly elegant solution because it assumes that decisions are made immediately upon seeing the ad. For many direct response products, that’s a reasonable assumption.
Of course, tracking is done online as well. Most marketers that use search, digital display, programmatic, and social are tracking click through rates and view through rates. This allows them to immediately see a consumer connection to the ad for a conversion—whether it is a website visit, an indicator of brand interest, or a sale. When compared with the appropriate benchmarks, these metrics provide the ability to act quickly on actual consumer action and make media investment decisions accordingly.
Advanced attribution modeling is a newer approach to mid-campaign measurement. Utilizing immediate conversions, consumer path analysis, and probabilistic outcomes, attribution modeling provides a more granular approach to measurement. It evaluates the exposure consumers have had to a multitude of touchpoints and assigns a score to each based on its overall value in securing the conversion. These scores are modeled into a response function and value provided to each media and message option. While it isn’t in real time, it is much timelier than marketing mix modeling.
Optimizing for Added/Reallocated Media Investment
The first step to mid-campaign management is to ensure that clear marketing objectives have been set. This, in turn, will lead to the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which should tie directly to marketing objectives. Then Key Lead Indicators (KLIs) should be identified, which are metrics statistically tied to KPIs. Assuming that the KLIs are measurable on an ongoing daily basis, this effectively puts the foundation in place for mid-campaign measurement.
Ongoing measurement can be as simple as maintaining a spreadsheet of the ads being served, along with vendor, size, creative execution, day, date, and response metric. Using a pivot table in excel allows the marketer to isolate effects. Combine that with some simple statistical tests and the elements of the advertising that are driving the biggest impact can quickly be determined. A framework for A/B testing will make this task simpler.
Marketers may also opt for the sophisticated approach provided by a reputable attribution modeler. There are dozens of firms in this space, so marketers should do their homework. The cost of these programs can run well into six figures for this solution, but the insights are deeper and will provide confidence to make the needed media allocation changes quickly.
By optimizing media during the campaign, marketers can even make the case for increased investment. This is turn will drive even better results, and it is all based on actual consumer behavior. While post-campaign measurement will provide longer term answers, life moves too fast to wait for the end to evaluate the success of a campaign. Incorporating mid-campaign measurement will ensure marketers don’t miss a thing.