The decline in creative effectiveness through the 2010s has been much discussed, with plenty of potential reasons cited. Marketers have been accused of a short-termist myopia, of being too rational, left-brained, and of focusing on awards and not business impacts. As well as this, it has been argued that measurement is to blame: by concentrating on data and not on gut, have marketers have lost the essence of what constitutes great advertising?

As part of Thinkbox’s Demand Generation event in November 2019 I put forward a case that measurement as a practice is not to blame, but that bad measurement practice is, in that it causes marketers to make misguided decisions.

To put measurement back on the right track requires a rule book that all of the industry can follow. This rule book needs to be simple, based on experience, and well-practiced. Therefore, the nine golden rules that follow are nothing new. You may think that they’re too damn obvious. But how many of us can realistically say we follow all of them, all the time?

The rules split into A) Data, B) Methodologies, and C) Further Considerations. Please read them carefully and encourage your teams to do the same. Only by following them all, as laid out here, can we return to proper marketing measurement.

This is a preview of a WARC article published in January 2020. You can read the full article here (available to WARC subscribers only)

Alternatively read our blog from Thinkbox’s Demand Generation event including a link to video summarising the research here

You can also download the 9 Golden Rules booklet here


Find out how we can help, demo our products and get more information about our global cross-sector experience.


If you think you have what it takes to make a difference at Gain Theory, please check out our careers page.

WPP data science supergroup Gain Theory, MediaCom and Wavemaker commissioned by Thinkbox, have revealed new research giving advertisers practical guidance to get maximized media-driven returns.

The aim of the ‘Demand Generation’ research is to guide advertisers on how to have the best of both worlds: substantial short-term sales and sustained base sales growth. 

This study, based on extensive client databanks and expertise, offers the most comprehensive understanding to date of the planning and measurement decisions that need to be made, alongside the resulting trade-offs in terms of speed of return, base sales growth and risk.

Putting Measurement Right: 9 Golden Rules
Within the research, Matt Chappell, Senior Partner at Gain Theory, leads the ‘9 Golden Rules of Measurement’ – a practical best practice campaign measurement guide that will enable businesses to effectively evaluate, learn and grow their media returns. You can get this guide by downloading it on this page.

Watch the Video

You can watch ‘Demand Generation’ video here which summarizes the research from the Thinkbox launch event covering:

  • The databank and findings
  • How to balance trade off decisions
  • 9 golden rules of measurement
  • How Kellogg’s are accelerating analysis.

Book Now

If you are a client side marketer and want to book a complimentary knowledge share session for you and your team around the 9 Golden Rules of Measurement, please contact

Originally published on the Marketing Society website.

Shawn O’Neal knew he should speak up but froze.

He was a junior exec and didn’t want to upset the apple cart. Plus, everyone else in the room was suddenly ‘yes-ing’ the CMO to death.

He had just spent months collating the data, analyzing, researching and focus-grouping the new Pepsi Blue can that would be the face of Pepsi for years to come. The team was armed with a strong recommendation and the facts to back it up.

Then in one swoop, no questions asked, the CMO pointed at a can and simply declared ’I like that one’. The version that hadn’t performed well in any of the research. The one that had tested poorly and didn’t represent the agreed upon goals of the project.

Yet there they all were, nodding their heads in agreement, trying to make the CMO feel smart.

O’Neal bit his tongue. He’s regretted that ever since and spent the last 20 years trying to ensure that CMOs incorporate data, facts and solid insights to help inform better decisions rather than solely going with the bias of ‘gut’ decisions.

If that incident taught him anything – it’s that marketing excellence requires conviction and bravery.

These were much discussed topics during the ‘Is Marketing Excellence Enough?’ session at Advertising Week in New York hosted by Gemma Greaves Global CEO of Marketing Society. Conversation guests – Subway CMO Roger Mader, Michelle Froah, SVP of Global Marketing Strategy & Sciences at MetLife and Shawn O’Neal NA CEO Gain Theory – debated the role of data in modern marketing, coupled with the continued need to take bold risks.

Marketers are often wrestling with when to take ‘job risking’ gambles, when to lean on data, or when to play it safe. To Mader, the idea of being brave in pursuit of excellence requires “confronting sacred cows treated as religion in the organization.” One of those ‘sacred cows’ is that marketing is limited to just marketing. Today, it’s crucial for executives to push “beyond the boundaries of marketing” – such as speaking up about whether their company is selling the right products, has the right pricing or the appropriate strategy.

“You need to be brave enough to say this is not just about marketing. This is about our customers’ experience and marketing is just a window onto that.”

Mader said he’s hopeful that in the coming years, as more marketers are able to get comfortable with and unlock the benefits of data and artificial intelligence, the more time and ammunition they’ll possess to take on some of their bolder challenges.

Of course, there’s always the worry that too much reliance on numbers can hold a major brand back from chasing big – sometimes unproven ideas.

“I think that there are organizations that set some stretching ambitions,” said Froah. “Then when it comes down to setting the goal, or the target to meet, no one wants to fall short of that.”

Froah urged brands and their agency partners to make sure they are clear on what success looks like, before simply trying to ‘chase excellence’ without a clear plan. That requires getting everyone signed off on quantitative and qualitative measures. 

“I think data is critical to making the right decisions,” she said.

“But you have to use data for good and that means using it to really listen to customers and really understand what issues you can fix. Also, you can galvanize the whole organization to set the right marketing requirements, to reset customer experience, create new solutions. There is still very much an art and a science to it. The biggest watch out is remembering that data represents people, but people aren’t data.”

True. But the panelists also noted that marketing is a long way from being as ‘scientific’ as it can be. O’Neal quoted a recent study which found most Marketers are using data to inform only 40% of their decisions. Which left him to wonder, what happens with the remaining 60% of decisions?

“We’re still a long way from call it, the perfect balance between art and science,” he said “40%! Come on! Are you telling me that 60% is guessing?! I mean what are we doing here?”

“There is still a ton of room for science to be part of this equation,” he added.

The more science backing up your ideas you have, the braver you can be.

Especially if you think your CMO is picking the wrong soda can.

If Marketing is the engine of business growth, the boiler room of decision making requires a ‘best-in-class’ effectiveness strategy.


  • Having the right Marketing Effectiveness Strategy will help create the right culture, make the right decisions, avoid wastage and maximise impact.
  • Focus on what really matters and create strategies that will ensure Marketing Effectiveness becomes an established part of how you do business.
  • Lead change within the organization by creating the political and emotional fuel required for the journey; adopting a crawl, walk, run approach; and having the right ecosystem in place.


Many organizations struggle with Marketing Effectiveness. Indeed, many are still trying to figure out which adverts are working; and how marketing in a broader sense, beyond advertising, is helping generate business growth.

This paper has been created by Gain Theory and commissioned by EffWorks, an initiative that champions accountability in marketing and promotes a culture of Marketing Effectiveness from C-Suite, all the way down through organizations.

The purpose of this paper is to generate momentum and direction around Marketing Effectiveness Strategy – to help marketing and insight executives maximise the impact of marketing.

In creating this paper, 40 senior marketing and insight executives from a cross section of leading brands were interviewed, representing a UK advertising spend of more than £7bn.


Watch Jon Webb, Managing Partner at Gain Theory talk about why this matter really matters in today’s marketing world.

Episode 1: Taking Effectiveness Strategy to the Next Level

Episode 2: How should a CMO think about Marketing Effectiveness?

Episode 3: How can we drive business growth through Marketing Effectiveness?

Episode 4: What is the Journey to best-in-class Marketing Effectiveness?

Episode 5: How to structure a Marketing Effectiveness programme



At Gain Theory, we believe that good marketing takes you through the short term, better marketing can put you above the rest, but excellent marketing can be the engine that drives long term sustainable growth. In a world of uncertain growth in many sectors, marketing excellence is not a casual matter, nor a task for the faint of heart.

Marketing leaders are tasked with being growth transformers, mastering a fountain of consumer data, talent and endless sources of inspiration. But what are the building blocks of marketing excellence? What marketing leadership characteristics do we need to get there, and what behaviors does the organization need to display to make it happen?

Marketing Excellence In Conversation

On September 23rd Gain Theory’s North America CEO Shawn O’Neal will join Roger Mader, CMO at Subway, and Michelle Froah, SVP of Global Marketing Strategy & Sciences at MetLife on a Marketing Society panel during Advertising Week NYC to talk about marketing excellence.

These marketing excellence pioneers will be revealing how they reached the top of the marketing mountain. Expect to take an all access, backstage tour of their marketing excellence journey. No punches will be pulled, they’ll be going the whole nine yards to show you what it takes to achieve marketing’s holy grail.

What You’ll Learn from This Session:

  1. How to build marketing excellence in your teams
  2. Insight from CMOs who have succesfully built and turned around brands
  3. Skills to drive long term sustainable growth of your brand

Are you a client-side marketer? We’d love to have you as our guest.

For tickets and more information, please contact our Global CMO

Marketers today are in the human behavior business so they need to understand not only data, but also compassion and connection.

In the digital age, marketers are leveraging data, technology and analytics to not only better understand their consumers, but also develop a more impactful message and experience.

So how do you build lasting relationships with consumers in the digital age?

Join us for an incredible panel hosted by Wunderman and led by renowned psychotherapist, Esther Perel at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity on June 19 to find out.

The panel will feature leading industry experts who will reveal how to move from selling to seduction:

  • Ben Royce, Creative Effectiveness Lead at Google
  • Stephan Pretorius, UK Group CEO & Global CTO at Wunderman
  • Claudia Sestini, Global Marketing & Communications Officer at Gain Theory

To register your attendance, click here

Are we using the correct KPIs to fully understand the path to purchase?

In the digital age, understanding the impact that marketing investment has on brand strength is a pressure point for many marketers. Picking the right methodology to fully understand the path-to-purchase is the next challenge.

In addition to Marketing Mix Models which focus on single KPIs that drive sales directly, marketers should be allowing data to tell the full story, and thus examine as many KPIs as required to derive a holistic understanding of the marketing ecosystem.

Jon Webb, Managing Partner at Gain Theory will be addressing this topic on stage at the CoFuture event and taking us through the methodology.

CoFuture, organised by WPP, is Turkey’s first 2-day media and marketing-oriented innovation summit, where close to 40 roster of WPP companies and entrepreneurs working in the field of technology and innovation will be able to meet with different start-ups, share new ideas, solutions and visions for the future of branded communications.

In the Gain Theory session on 6th of April at 11:45, on day 2 (Friday) Jon will explore:

  • Understanding the KPIs that are needed to fully unveil the path to purchase
  • Measuring marketing – long and short term, across media channels
  • Re engineering measurement to understand the impact on brand value

To meet with Jon at the event please email

Are you attending the EffWeek Conference this year ‘Reimagining Creativity and Effectiveness’ on Oct 15th in London? Yes? We’ll see you there. No? Well you should be, because it will be the place to be to learn how companies are using effective marketing to fuel their business growth.

That’s one of the many reasons why we’re proud to have a strong, global partnership with EffWorks which champions marketing accountability.

We have proudly supported EffWorks for the past few years, collaborating with this initiative to champion marketing effectiveness and accountability.

In our role as global partners we sit on the EffWorks Advisory Board, advise and produce research and content plus have a big presence at the landmark EffWeek conference in London.

This year, we were invited on a trade mission to China where we were the only marketing effectiveness consultancy that was part of a Promote UK and Advertising Association delegation at the SHIAF (Shanghai International Advertising Festival). Our Global CEO Manjiry Tamhane spoke at a VIP marketer dinner about:

  • Marketing being the engine of business growth
  • Brands existing to grow a company
  • In order to drive sustainable business growth, brands need to know, what happened, why it happened and how to make it happen.

Since our white paper Measurement Strategy: Getting to Best in Class went down a treat last year we are planning to release an intriguing thought leadership piece this year. The title and theme? Both a surprise until the conference. But we’ll give you a hint – it’s centred around something we all think about a lot…the future.  

The conference promises to be thought provoking with Matt Chappell, Senior Partner at Gain theory joining a panel about Measuring the Long Term Today.

There will also be more fascinating speakers in attendance including:

  • Kelly Simmons MBE, Director of the Women’s Professional Game at the Football Association
  • Mark Kermode, The resident film reviewer for The Observer
  • Abba Newbery, Chief Marketing Officer at Habito

We hope to see you there! For tickets, click here.

Jon Webb, Managing Partner at Gain Theory will be leading a Marketing Effectiveness training session on behalf of ISBA – the sole body representing the UK’s leading advertisers – for its members.

Taking place at ISBA offices in London on Tuesday April 30, the course is designed to be an introduction to the science and art of understanding whether and why your marketing spend is working and how to measure success.

The famous quote “Half my marketing spend is working…I just don’t know which half” is an overused cliché that also happens to be often true.

In this full-day course, Jon will guide ISBA members through the principles and practice of using data techniques to understand whether (and to what extent) your marketing spend is working, why it is doing so, and how to communicate your conclusions to other stakeholders.


This course will cover numerous elements of marketing (including, but not exclusively):

  • Advertising / Media (traditional and digital)
  • Promotions (on-trade and off-trade)
  • Price
  • Product
  • Place / Distribution
  1. An understanding of primary and advanced marketing metrics: there are many metrics to help understand how marketing activity has performed from a range of different sources (agency analytics, econometric analysis, etc.).
  2. Developing tools to assess the effectiveness of marketing programs, including ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment): we will look at the different tools that are at an advertiser’s disposal, from developing internal understanding to metrics available from outside sources.
  3. The importance of knowing your customer: here we will cover the many ways you can understand your customer and what drives them to purchase including which communication method is optimal for to drive engagement with your brand. What data sets and techniques are available to use in the absence of retailers sharing customer purchase data. How can you make data-driven decisions to support your marketing strategies and ensure success?
  4. Determining the drivers of customer acquisition and retention and therefore developing the strategies and measures to support both: it is important to understand how general marketing (and media) impacts both product types:• On trade: Understanding how different specific marketing (and media) activities impact the owners, and how to drive brand loyalty with consumers as well increasing market share in a highly competitive marketplace
    • Off-trade: Understand what drives customers to purchase products in a highly competitive marketplace
  5. Econometric modelling:
    a. Linking advertising spend with revenue generationOne of the key outputs of econometric modelling is understanding the impact advertising has on sales (and revenue). Understanding the differences between media types (and media strategies) will help influence optimisationb. Linking promotional spend with revenue generationc. The role of intangible assets, such as Brand Equity and Customer Equity.d. Understanding outside factors on ROMI.
  6. Web Analytics and Metrics for Social Media Marketing: we will cover key digital metrics in the course and how they interact. It is also important to understand how traditional media can influence digital metric and account for this (i.e. via digital attribution analysis).
  7. Developing a marketing dashboard, or set of metrics to measure performance: this section will start with re-highlighting the priority KPIs, what a dashboard could/should look like, and different development options available on the market today. It will end as an open discussion regarding the best option for a dashboard (KPIs, technological solution, etc.)

For more information on the course please click here.

For information on ISBA membership click here.

Further resources:

Gain Theory Marketing Effectiveness Strategy Paper commissioned by EffWorks click here 

At Gain Theory we believe that Marketing is the engine of profitable and sustainable business growth. We know that marketing is the key differentiator for brands today and can be the key weapon at our disposal that will drive growth.

Jon Webb, Managing Partner at Gain Theory, will be joining a panel of experts at the ISBA conference in London on March 5 at 2:30 GMT to discuss the burning issues currently faced in the twin worlds of marketing and marketing effectiveness. Key takeouts:

  • Driving the effectiveness agenda and overcoming the short-term trends, with a focus on the KPIs and metrics that really matter.
  • Overcoming the barriers within a company culture that prevent marketing excellence
  • Why should the C-Suite care? What is the size of the prize if we can get this right?

Joining the discussion will be:

  • Libby Child, Founder, Greengrass Consulting
  • Mark Evans, Marketing Director, Direct Line Group
  • Janet Markwick, Global EVP Operations & Production, Young & Rubicon
  • Nick Pugh, Head of Effectiveness, Ebiquity

For more information on how you can maximize the impact of your marketing effectiveness program, contact Jon Webb please email

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