Take Measure of Your Marketing

Take advantage of the tools that tell you why your marketing is or isn’t working.

This should sound familiar to most marketers. A client wanted to see how business would respond if they tripled their TV investment. New creative was developed and the media agency built a television plan to blow the doors off the business.

As the teams geared up to launch, the agency suggested a test of copy effectiveness. A quick copy test could generate metrics around communication effectiveness, message clarity, offer appeal, and emotional resonance among the target. These metrics would be compared to norms and give diagnostics for how to improve the commercial, if necessary.

The client said no. They didn’t want to spend $50,000. They liked the creative. They didn’t want to contemplate making changes. They turned down the copy testing plan.

You know where this is going. The added TV investment failed to generate the immediate impact the business envisioned. Within a month the agency was on the phone with the networks, frantically canceling every bit of inventory possible.

What was learned? Nothing. No one knew if the copy was at fault. There hadn’t even been an investment in any TV effectiveness monitoring, so the agency didn’t know if some networks were appropriate and others less so. In their effort to save money, the client had missed an opportunity to learn more about their business and the effectiveness of their advertising. In effect, the advertiser had wasted $4 million.

While this example is specifically about copy testing, the situation and learnings are relevant across many advertisers who have rejected the cost for brand tracking, impact modeling, and media-specific brand lift measurement.


It’s understandable to worry about the out-of-pocket cost for measurement. For small to medium advertisers, this “below the line” expense feels like a waste—why wouldn’t they plow those funds into advertising and thus generate more business? Some marketing mix modeling costs are in the six figures, and attribution modeling adds untold complexity to the marketing process.

Some advertisers simply don’t have the time and money. The problem is that moving the “below the line” measurement expense into working media is a short-term strategy. Even if those funds do generate more business, if there is no measurement, there’s no real way to know. A general rule of thumb is that up to 10% of the cost of an advertising campaign should be invested in evaluating the impact of it.


Setting measurable goals is scary. While achieving a desired goal is empowering, not achieving it can end careers. If an advertiser just fails to allocate money to measurement, there is no accountability and no blame. But unless you are very lucky, ultimately this backfires. Without campaign measurement there is no continuous improvement, and no way to take credit for great marketing, and ultimately no justification for either censure or accolades.

Accountability doesn’t have to be scary. And it doesn’t have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Small measurement investment can lead to incremental improvements, and for an organization unaccustomed to campaign evaluation, even a small win can loom large.

For the client who rejected the copy testing, the accountability existed regardless of the desire to just hope everything worked out for the best. When the effort failed, the marketing department still had to explain what had gone wrong. This is quite a difficult thing to explain when you don’t know the answer!


Start with your marketing objective. What do you want to achieve with your marketing efforts? What do you specifically want your advertising to achieve? Then work backward from there: what do you want your digital display advertising to achieve? What role does search play? If your goal is increased sales, you should have a measurement plan that includes a way to tie sales to advertising spending. It’s not enough to just look at sales before and after the campaign since other factors beyond advertising are at work in the marketplace.

If considering the plan holistically seems overwhelming, consider evaluating one small part of your advertising plan. Digital is typically the most measurable, and even if there is no opportunity for online conversion there are other methodologies to determine brand lift. This can typically be done for less than $15,000.

Another approach is to undertake a simple pre/post campaign market research study. By surveying your targeted customers, you can understand not only brand awareness and purchase intent, but how those consumers feel about your brand. This can lead to changes in your advertising message or your product.

On your next advertising plan, consider setting aside 3-5% for effectiveness measurement. Depending on the size of your advertising investment, that may not be enough to do sophisticated analysis, but it may be enough to evaluate something simple.

These small efforts (typically very affordable) can help make needed changes to generate more business and help make future measurement not only valuable but necessary. As your knowledge increases, the sophistication of your solution may grow. For the copy-effectiveness testing-resistant client, in hindsight, $50,000 seemed like a small investment. It would have potentially saved them millions.

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Julie Pahutski
Julie Pahutski

Julie Pahutski leads Empower’s Decision Sciences practice, which is responsible for media measurement, market research, and digital/web analytics. Her passion is data, whether it is for advanced targeting, media analysis, attribution modeling, or dashboarding. She spearheaded the creation of many proprietary tools at Empower, including Impact Moments® and MAPS (a geographical targeting system).