As originally published by Thinkbox on May 22, 2020

Matt Chappell, Senior Partner at Gain Theory, outlines four data-driven reasons to invest in advertising now in order to succeed in the future.

The common reaction to the unprecedented situation we have been facing over the last few months is to pull up the drawbridge, adopt defensive positions, and more often than not in the world of marketing, cut, cancel, pause, delay and reduce. 

But there are two sides of the coin. 

Unfortunately, there are businesses who have had to shut down completely or have experienced a decrease in demand. On the flip side, many in-demand businesses are finding themselves butting up against capacity limits. All of this leads to a reduced demand for advertising, especially if you’re of the school of thought that believes that advertising exists to prompt demand in the here and now.

However, Marketers that can hold their nerve, as well as the nerves of their Finance Director and board, know that advertising has an impact beyond today and will drive profits far beyond this crisis. 

With that in mind, here are four data-informed reasons to invest in advertising now in order to succeed in the future. They are:


1. Advertising’s long-term impact

Gain Theory’s Long Term Impact of Advertising analysis from Thinkbox’s report showed that 58% of advertising’s payback came in the long term (in general, 3 months to 3 years) versus 42% in the short term (now to 3 months). This means that even in a world where short term returns are not viable, there is still value over the long term. If your short-term advertising ROI, as measured by econometrics, was £1, then investing now will generate a further £1.38 over the long term, showing that advertising can have a value over and above what it delivers in the present time.

It is this long-term value that informs findings around companies who invest in a recession doing better afterwards. 

Here are a few famous examples: 

1. Consumer Packaged Goods
Post was the category leader but cut advertising spend during the Great Depression. Kellogg’s the younger competitor, doubled spend, and remains to this day the category leader. 

2. Automotive
During the recession of the early 1970s, triggered by the oil crisis, Toyota maintained advertising spend as part of its long-term strategy, overcoming both Honda and Volkswagen to become the number one imported car brand into the US. 

3. Quick Service Restaurants
In the recession of 1990-91, McDonalds dropped its advertising budget which allowed competitors Pizza Hut and Taco Bell to increase sales significantly. 


2. Great value media

It is not new news that a lot of media is very good value right now, indeed Matt Hill at Thinkbox has already written about this in detail in the WARC article ‘Cleaning up with TV in Lockdown’.  

We are hearing about media costs decreasing significantly due to demand for advertising decreasing and supply increasing as locked-in families watch more TV and spend more time online. What this means in practical terms, is that if your ROI from TV was £2 before the crisis, it could now be up to £3 or £4. If your demand has held strong, or even declined slightly (i.e. by less than costs in media have been decreasing) then it makes sense to place a strong bet on media.


3. Running from a walking start vs Running from a standing start

Some of us have taken up running in this lockdown period. As you will know, it’s a lot easier to sprint from a jogging start than it is from standing still. The same is true for media.

Behavioural research shows that consumers often need to see a piece of advertising multiple times before they are in a position to respond. This might be due to a complex message needing multiple views, a big reveal at the end that keeps the brand in suspense, or the fact that most consumers ignore or forget a number of ads to which they’re exposed.

When life goes back to some semblance of normal, most advertisers will want to capitalise on this moment and increase their advertising. Those who do so from a walking start, where consumers have already been exposed to some advertising, will do much better than those who try to start from scratch for the reasons outlined above. In fact, this can be equivalent to a 30-50% differential in a month’s worth of advertising effectiveness.


4. Spreading risk

As mentioned above, most advertisers will want to be present when the economy starts revving up again. But no-one knows exactly when this will be, with guidance on lockdowns and social distance being necessarily flexible and responsive to the latest risk and rate of infection.

Most advertisers will have significant lead times to getting an advert on air, impacted by creating the message, gaining business alignment, or buying the media. We have seen some fantastic examples of flexibility and strong messaging being created quickly but these are well-regarded exceptions and not the norm.

Because of this lead time and the uncertainty over exactly when we will return to normal, sensible businesses will be spreading the risk and reward of their advertising through the summer to ensure they have a presence when this occurs. And because of the above three points, they will also be reaping the benefits of good planning for long term success.

So, there you have it: four solid data-informed reasons to maintain advertising investment through this period. The best Marketers should never waste a crisis.


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As originally published in The Drum, 13th May 2020

Although it’s a precarious time to make sweeping business changes, Gain Theory’s Russell Nuzzo makes the case for Near-Term Measurement in lieu of marketers’ favourite – Multi-Touch Attribution. 

Every organization is asking the same question: if the world economy is frozen, what can I cut that will still allow me to come out of the running blocks fast? Unfortunately for many marketers, the decisions around investment cuts are being made by finance, with only the savviest of chief marketing officers having a say. 

Right now, marketers need to justify every dollar by using the most accurate and relevant data possible to make fast decisions that will have a positive impact. In this climate, businesses that can, need to generate revenue now. 

If return on investment was important for advertisers before the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s absolutely mission-critical now. And for marketing measurement, if anything good can come of the current crisis, it’s that brands begin a renewed focus on mastering what we call ‘near-term performance measurement.’ This approach focuses on using immediate and precise data signals to make advertising decisions. 

Simply put – this crisis requires a strong, data-oriented approach for how we gauge the effectiveness of advertising. It’s time to zero-in on the data that is actually going to help you impact and protect your business immediately, rather than seek solutions through overly complex approaches with highly imperfect data. 

Understandably, the temptation will be to plug the near-term ‘water leak’ by using the multi-touch attribution (MTA) ‘hammer’ that sits in the marketing measurement toolbox. But the ‘hammer’ is not the only tool you could use. 

Historically, brands have tried to be as strategic as possible with their marketing spending using established approaches such as marketing mix modeling (MMM). These models help big brands figure out how best to allocate their budgets to maximize key measures such as reach and sales and evaluate tradeoffs. 

However, if we recognize that the next six-12 months will look nothing like the past two to three years, the old models may no longer apply. MMM should not be thrown out; it can provide a great framing exercise. But it needs to be coupled with a strong, near-term measurement solution that can read and react based on what’s happening right now. 

And if brands don’t get ‘right now’ right – their future isn’t necessarily guaranteed. 

MTA is not the Swiss army knife that marketers need 

Not long ago, MTA was once the darling of the marketing industry. Conceptually, it’s understandable. Who wouldn’t want to figure out exactly which ads drove which action? Even better, it promised marketers the ability to discern how different ad units across multiple media channels worked together to influence consumers and drive action. That’s essentially marketing’s holy grail: reach exactly who you want and don’t waste any money. 

On paper, this is exactly the kind of tool that would be valuable right now, as chief marketing officers grapple with maddening business questions. But MTA has consistently overpromised and underdelivered. 

A slew of less than satisfied customers can attest to this. I have heard of projects that take more than a year to get off the ground, significant data gaps and difficulties distilling tangible insights, not to mention the challenges of integrating MTA outputs back into clients’ adtech stacks. The continued deterioration of third-party cookies and IDs – the linchpin of MTA – will culminate in 2022 when Google, having followed Safari and Firefox, will begin blocking third-party cookies in Chrome. 

Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate the right tools for near-term measurement. 

The right tool for the right job 

While the climate will be challenging for the foreseeable future, creating a unified, near-term measurement solution coupled with robust scenario planning, fueled by the latest available data will be essential. 

There can be no garbage in and no garbage out. Not now. 

To fuel near-term measurement, a tried and tested data-led alternative is to lean into what we call ‘micro-geographies’ for targeting as opposed to cookies. It is much easier to determine where an ad impression was served than who it was served to. Plus, micro-geographies are far more stable from data validation and privacy standpoints. 

Additionally, most external impacts to consumer buying decisions happen geographically; local pricing, local distribution, local weather, local competition – even local Covid-19 infection patterns can affect the decision to purchase something. 

We have been able to build these local features into our near-term measurement solution sensor; a micro-geography-based alternative to MTA. 

For Covid-19 specifically, we’ve been able to build a set of indicators to quantify how the outbreak is positively and negatively impacting brand sales. Some of those trends are short term but others may have longer-term impacts on brand preferences and consumer habits. Some of the impacts will fundamentally change business models permanently. 

Pivot to near-term measurement 

Organizations need an understanding of short-, medium- and longer-term impacts of all their current investment decisions, not just marketing. Alongside longer-term scenario planning using simulation techniques such as agent-based modelling as well as established techniques such as MMM, marketers also need an immediate view on the here and now. 

We think near-term measurement is the ultimate replacement for user-level MTA, and the perfect tool in the box for marketers in the Covid-19 ‘new normal’ landscape. Using near-term data can also predict consumer patterns before they happen. 

Now more than ever, marketers need to make data-informed confident decisions at speed. 

Using the right tools for the job, rather than reaching for a hammer, will help articulate the impact of investments ensuring brands remain relevant and robust through turbulent times, and that much better situated to lead when things get back ‘normal.’ 

Right now, marketers are beset by reduced budgets, lack of actionable data about customers, and rapid demand & media habit changes. Data, assumptions, models, and plans older than 45 days are redundant. Now is the time to prepare for the ‘known unknowns’ and pivot rapidly.

We are living through a generational spike in uncertainty, volatility and complexity.  No one knows the full human toll and economic costs of SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19.  This demand collapse is deep, sudden, and touches so many industries a global recession seems inevitable.  Consumers are using products and services they haven’t previously, and necessity is driving them to new paths to purchase.  According to the science of pandemics applied to current data, infection rates will keep going up so assume significant impacts on the concerns, moods, and the economics of your customer base.  They will engage your brand differently, if at all. The ‘old’ norms around brand preferences need stats and price sensitivity requires a new lens.

We recommend you transition rapidly and thoughtfully into the ‘new normal’ using early data and existing insights.  Here’s how.

Assess your situation, rapidly and accurately

At the risk of being dramatic, this is a survival situation for many businesses. One of the first things to do in a survival challenge and preparing for the ‘known unknowns’ is to deepen your situational awareness.

  • Look for analogous situations that inspire your response options. For example, case studies from brand behaviors in the last recession or in the aftermath of 9/11.  An article in Harvard Business Review from 2008 argues for spending in recessions: “It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at a lower cost than during good economic times’. Also, consider cases of ‘forced trials’ i.e. customers trying competitor brands out of need: will they bounce back to you if they have a positive brand experience elsewhere?

  • Consider digital business model acceleration, product, partnerships and distribution options: Go beyond communications and start asking yourself: how fast can you ramp up your e-commerce capabilities? What product/service modifications can you pivot to? Can you partner with ‘complimentary’ brands to literally deliver your value proposition differently and address current customer needs?

  • Revisit the basic heuristics of price sensitivity and segmentation.  Heighten your sensitivity to both. How much of your business was driven by consumers/segments that are quite suddenly trapped at home?  Unemployed?  How intense was price/value competition prior to the pandemic?  Does your current marketing spend keep you appropriately messaged and top of mind to prevent leakage to competitors for key consumers?  Broadly, maintaining investment in brand to support the value proposition can mitigate price sensitivity.

  • Assess whether you are using the right marketing channels to communicate.  Current media data is clear on short-term consumption shifts, your channel mix also needs to shift.  Millions of your customers are at home driving the 30%+ spike in television viewing globally.  Viewing has shifted to general entertainment, given the lack of sports programming.  Consumers are reporting much more streaming since the outbreak, films and TV shows are up 60%+.  

Act now, triangulating with your best judgement

Most businesses are acutely focused on cash flow.  Demand plummeted faster than many cost structures could withstand.  In this harsh new reality, how much of your marketing and media investments are being eyed by your CFO?    

If you can maintain marketing investment  we recommend:   

  • Ensuring that your in-flight messaging is appropriate.  Dig deep into every crevice of your messaging and review, review, review.  Is your ‘old’ message appropriate now? What should we be communicating? What impact will your messaging have on brand perception?

  • Optimizing the channels you use.  Not all marketing spend can pivot on a dime, but media consumption habits have been forced to shift.  For example, while TV dollars are likely pre-committed, Digital, Paid Social, Paid Search can be adjusted quickly.  This logic needs to be applied to your entire mix.  Before you shift or reduce however, you must consider if you can serve short-term demand spikes, like in-home delivery, or if you are effectively at a stand-still, example you are an airline.

  • Using the channels with demonstrated prior strength until the fog lifts.  Perfect is not the key objective right now, presence is.  Monitor closely any potential drops in CPM across your marketing mix because some of your competitors might be forced to pull back.  Marketers willing to spend more with their partners are likely to benefit relative to those who cut, just as they always are.  Although it seems a long way off, H2 spending also needs to be a consideration in your revised plans.  

Look forward to re-igniting demand.

 “This too shall pass.”  said Abraham Lincoln.

COVID-19 has disrupted demand as we knew it and will re-write business models.  It may change forever how we market to, engage with and deliver our value proposition to the customers we have and the customers we want.  Events like these have real impacts on consumer confidence and therefore, habits. To get ready for the coming new normal, you must immediately think about the long-term effects of your actions today on the brand. In fact, 93% of consumers believe that brands should “stand up and help.” If your firm can do something to help the current crisis like donations, make those socially important actions and values part of your narrative.  Consumers have a long memory of these things and almost all of them have more time on their hands to watch what you are doing. 

By adjusting and adapting now, you will be ready to capture demand when it comes back. Let’s hope it comes roaring back soon.

Businesses tend to perform better in times of stability and continuity, when the future is simpler to predict. But we now live in a world of perpetual uncertainty, from trade wars to Brexit the future is becoming more difficult to anticipate. So how exactly do businesses achieve sustainable, meaningful growth in these uncertain times?

To mark our 2019 global partnership with EffWorks –  the global initiative that champions accountability – Jon Webb, Managing Partner explains what businesses should be doing to ensure that uncertainty becomes a growth opportunity.

Click here to read it.  

Why should I read this?

  • Understand what growth means in context of the times we live in today.
  • The opportunities that exist in the same spaces as challenges.
  • How to plan for sustained growth using a ‘future > back’ approach.

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.

Karen Kaufman, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Gain Theory speaks to AdAge in an article about the barriers keeping marketers and organizations from leveraging their data to inform decisions.

Closing the gap between marketing analytics and performance

Many marketers today have measurement systems in place to gauge the impact of their marketing campaigns. When ROI estimates reveal that a campaign is falling short of expectations, a decisive and well-informed marketer will reshuffle the media mix, change up the creative or take some other corrective action.

Unfortunately, this level of rigor is not being applied consistently to marketing investment decisions. Data and analytics are a gold mine, but marketers are not fully incorporating this intelligence into their decision-making process.

The fact is data and insights often languish inside the organization, resulting in organizations that fail to achieve the full potential of their marketing investment.

Research confirms a disparity between spending on data and analytics and a marketer’s willingness or ability to make decisions on the basis of its conclusions.

Currently, marketers spend 5 to 7% of their overall budgets on data analytics. According to the CMO Survey, that number is expected to jump to 11.3% in the next three years. And yet, in 2019, fewer than half (43.5%) of all business decisions are being made on the basis of marketing analytics—the highest level in the last six years. Moreover, when respondents were asked “To what degree does the use of marketing analytics contribute to your company’s performance?” they gave an average rating of just 4.1 on a scale from 1 (“none at all”) to 7 (“highly”).

The numbers seem remarkably low, especially considering the high levels of investment. To the casual observer, they raise the question: Why would a company commit resources to marketing analytics—or any data asset—without an obvious benefit to the business?

For starters, many marketers approach the need for data analytics as simply “checking a box”—in other words, for its own sake rather than with a clear understanding of the business question the marketer is trying to answer. There is an urgent sense of “I’ve got to do [fill in the blank] because everyone’s doing it.” That’s one sure way to get stuck in the weeds and by no means a path to marketing success.

Turn actionable insights into action

By now, it is widely accepted that one of the main goals of analytics is to produce “actionable insights.” Many successful marketers already possess the necessary insights to better engage with consumers. The issue is not so much the insights per se, but rather it is the ability to implement those insights by key decision makers across the organization that usually represents the biggest hurdles for marketers.

At Gain Theory we know this to be true from our own research findings. In one industry study, we asked marketers, “Is your company able to act on insights?” The answers we got back were mixed. Some marketers were unable to take action on key insights because they lacked a mandate from senior management while others got bogged down in a process of testing the efficacy of the findings before widely implementing the lessons to other departments. One respondent summed up, candidly, “We sometimes apply data without logic or experience.”

Design solutions for the end user

Today’s marketing technology space includes an abundance of tools powered by precise statistical models. Yet most of these tools were not designed with the marketer in mind. They can be overly technical and cumbersome to use.

We set out to correct this problem when developing our new marketing decisioning platform, Gain Theory Interactive. We conducted interviews with marketers and brand teams to fully understand how decisions are made. We learned that marketers need to be able to make critical decisions—often on the fly—and they need tools that empower them to make those decisions without requiring expertise in things like regression models.

Our main goal was to build a platform for marketers that simplifies the user experience and makes the output clear and easy to understand. The platform’s landing page, for example, immediately gets to the crux of the business question, whether it’s determining the budget required to achieve a sales target or informing the right marketing mix for a planned spend. As users go deeper into the platform, the steps and required inputs are designed to reflect how marketers tackle real-world problems.

Consider how the iPhone has revolutionized not just how we work but how we handle practically all aspects of our daily lives. Yet few if any of us ever think about the nitty-gritty details of the technology that makes our gadgets work right out of the box. With a platform that enables marketers to make informed business decisions without having to be experts in analytics—or taking the time to consult with a team of data scientists—marketing can achieve its fullest potential.

Article originally published on Adage click here.

Find out more about Gain Theory Interactive by visiting the site here 

 

 

In June during the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Gain Theory Global CEO, Manjiry Tamhane, and Howard Grosfield EVP & GM US Consumer Marketing at American Express took to the stage to talk brand purpose and Marketing Excellence at the CMO Club House.

Below are the key takeouts, originally published on the CMO Club website.

To join this innovative and engaged community of CMOs, committed to helping each other solve their biggest challenges in a behind closed doors, candid, and trust-worthy environment click here.

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing is the engine of business growth.
  • We find a lot of conversations are about being data-driven, but it should really be about how data is used to inform the decisions within an organization.
  • Organizations that ground their decisions in data outperform on revenue by 85% against their peers.
  • You need to have a deep understanding of the purpose of your brand and then permeate that meaning to the front lines of your organization. If you do both of these things together, that’s excellent marketing.
  • When marketers excel at what they’re doing, you get sustainable business growth.
  • We aren’t trying to be the largest Bank or credit card company. We wake up wanting to deliver the world’s best customer service every single day, even if that involves us moving into new markets or engaging with our customers in new ways.
  • We’re a data-rich company. Our problem is not getting data. We have 120 million cards used around the world, but we need to be surgically precise on how we use this data to drive engagement. When customers tell us what they need, we pivot.
  • There’s a divide between those who think it’s about creative and those who think it’s about data.
  • For those of us in heavily regulated industries where every marketing message needs to be approved, the gift of agile is being able to seat the copy person, the creative person and the compliance person round one table, and do what the customer wants us to do.
  • Questions marketers are asking, “How do I educate and upskill my people,” and “How do I change the process?”
  • The marketer’s challenge a few years ago was getting their hands on data, removing jargon from the industry and asking a simple question without getting different answers. Now marketers have the data, know the jargon, and have the answers. The challenge is how to make decisions quickly, and how to become data rich but not insights poor.
  • Manjiry Tamhane says; “My Mum gave me determination. She’s as stubborn as anyone you’ll ever meet. My Dad was an architect so from a creative industry, and it created a beautiful blend of my mom’s data brain combined with his creativity.”
  • Howard Grosfield says; “My parents were tremendous role models. They taught me that people rarely remember what you say, but they always remember how it made them feel. We’re now in the feelings business, that advice has translated well into my career.”

It’s a long journey from the classroom to the C suite, and managing a global organization isn’t a job many people can relate to. So, what is that journey like? What are the lessons learned? What are the leaders really like behind closed doors?

In this exclusive and candid WPP Stella podcast we hear from Manjiry Tamhane, Global CEO at Gain Theory in conversation with Jay Kandola, Commercial Director at Mediacom talk about her journey to the C suite, perspective on life and leadership.

Highlights include:

  • Manjiry’s journey from university graduate to Gain Theory CEO
  • Why being brave is vital to success
  • What makes Gain Theory special
  • The book that had the biggest impact on her
  • On building data informed cultures
  • How to deliver marketing excellence
  • …and why shy bears get no honey!

Listen to the episode below, if you enjoy it, share it!

Stella Conversations is a series of informative and inspiring conversations between members of the WPP Stella women’s leadership group and a cohort of future leaders.


Gain Theory’s Claudia Sestini discusses the numbers behind marketing excellence.

marketing-measurement-in-the-uk-the-senior-marketer-pov

This year’s Marketing Society Excellence Awards displayed the UK’s bravest and most impactful marketing achievements. Direct Line, Mars, John Lewis, The National Lottery, ITV and many more can now be added to the marketing hall of fame providing inspiration for years to come.

Reading the case studies, you get a real sense of vision and purpose. But what about measuring impact – the numbers behind marketing excellence? What role does measurement play in the ad campaigns that steal headlines, generate sales, and win awards?

In a world where a marketer’s currency isn’t solely focused on creative anymore, the data gold rush has taken its hold. A rush to measure, validate, optimise and manage based on the insights from the data mine.

Before we marshal marketers towards the fountain of eternal data and insights, let’s stop and think about the end goal. Why we’re doing it, how and when we should do it, the impact on marketers and crucially the business.

Research carried out earlier this year, conducted impartially by an ex-CMO with senior marketers in the US representing brands with a total of $1.9bn advertising spend, confirms a number of marketing measurement pain points: Metrics overload, or analysis paralysis; short termism, organisational structure and the need for one source of truth.

With this mind, the Society and Gain Theory have been collaborating to explore these challenges and how we solve them with senior marketers across global hubs – New York, London, New Delhi & Singapore.

Over dinner, high atop the London skyline at the lofty heights of the Gherkin, the Society convened Excellence Awards judges, winners and a wider group of senior marketers to take a 30,000 foot look at the choppy marketing measurement waters. We were in good company with marketers including Jaguar Land Rover, Direct Line, Samsung, HSBC, Wiggle, Hiscox and more.

Metrics that Matter

There was broad agreement on the following fact: we have so much data we can now measure the arse out of marketing.

The increase in channels available to marketers is leading to an increase in the number of metrics used for reporting. This firehose of analytics has crippled many marketers with “analysis paralysis” whereby there’s not enough time, resource, and skillset in a day – or a month – to go through all the numbers, identify the key statistics and discern lessons from them. One marketer sagely remarked, “Just because you can measure, doesn’t mean you can manage.”

In addition, some of the metrics are not sufficiently linked to business outcomes. As one marketer said ‘We have too many metrics that are not financial’.

The consensus is to focus on the metrics that really matter. One marketer said that her view on measurement was simply, “Do they see our comms and will they buy more as a result?” Everything else, it would seem, is salad dressing.

Then, there are metrics that we need on daily basis to understand and manage business impact of marketing to the ones that help us manage stakeholder expectation. Using the right ones for the right ‘internal audience’ was another solution provided around the table.

Other marketers highlighted that in the sea of available metrics “ROI is the easiest metric – it’s a winner.”

Another view was around digital – Google, Facebook et al all were name dropped, of course. The thinking here is that yes do it, but learn from it. To quote one marketing effectiveness leader at the table ‘Go play, but please measure’.

More advice around the table included:

  • Think about the “So What?”  factor – only measure things you can do something about
  • Talk soft metrics and the board are not interested!  Focus on metrics that give you credibility
  • Define the 6 things that drive value creation
  • Where measurement is concerned, it’s incumbent on marketers to set the agenda

Is Brand Marketing Dead?

A challenge that was cited repeatedly, is the sharp pendulum swing towards short-term activation. It feels like marketers are bemoaning a lack of focus on long-term impact, and thus the demise of brand marketing and subsequent impact on long term growth. One view was that this is being caused by C-Suite and shareholders expecting instant results.

Another perspective is that digital has been a pariah to long term effectiveness with one marketer saying “Digital allows us to activate sales quickly.”…“Brand marketing is dead.” Said another “We are so short-term focused – it’s all about instant results. If our campaign isn’t generating sales after 5 hours, its pulled.”

So, marketers are left wondering: how do we highlight how brand marketing can impact growth?

One solution offered was using the right language and metrics when communicating to the business and especially the C-Suite. Marketers must be able to communicate growth via metrics that impact both top and bottom line. So, it follows that even long term brand impact must be able to show an ROI.

Ultimately, we all agreed that short term is not a bad thing but rather that it’s not a battle between short vs long but more a case of re-evaluating short term within long term.

Magic vs Logic

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There is a place for hard metrics and a place for being brave and trying things that are not measured or measurable.

There was a sense that if you’re able to walk into the board room with a great creative idea then your short term ROI worries go out the window. Big, bold executions still win hearts and minds of consumers, and after all after isn’t the goal for marketing to change human behaviour?

As one marketer said, “We all know that the number one driver of ROI is creative.” Gemma Greaves, Global CEO at the Society, cited the Cadbury’s gorilla campaign which apparently didn’t initially receive a great reaction internally – there were reservations:

Lee Rolston, Cadbury’s director of marketing at that time, is quoted to have said, “We had a pragmatic concern that it was just too far for Cadbury to go from where they were at that point; that there had to be some sort of stepping stone. But then we thought, ‘You know what? This is an opportunity; we should do what we feel is right rather than what we think they will think is right.’”

Apparently, the board were tasked to take the creative home for the weekend and show it to friends and family. Come Monday, the emotive, game changing power of the creative execution and its potential was clear: everyone loved it and the creative was given the go ahead.

The Upshot

What was truly great about the dinner in London was how open everyone was about their challenges, views and crucially how happy they were to offer a solution to each other. This is what makes the peer network of the Marketing Society so great.

There are a few key takeaways. Firstly, it’s imperative to focus only on the metrics that matter and that you can do something about. Secondly, it’s about managing a portfolio of risk both short and long term. Finally, even in a time of Big Data, there are occasions when tossing out the spreadsheet and going with your creative gut can move hearts and minds and ultimately ROI.

My final thought is that marketers are well placed to set the agenda for measurement. Not only do we have the data and resources to hand to measure top and bottom line growth but we also possess, in my mind, the biggest power of all: the ability to tell compelling stories that touch the hearts and minds of people. We must be braver and bolder in using the story telling ‘super power’ more with internal stakeholders, remembering to utilize the right language for the right audience whether C suite or across the organisations.

Read the original article here.

The world is data rich. We are inundated with data feeds and each new data feed comes with its own KPI that is shouting for your attention. How do we sift through the innumerable data feeds today to focus on what really matters?

Historically, many marketers have used MMM as a technique to understand what is driving sales. Although this is still a good technique, especially for calculating marketing ROIs and macro media planning, MMM assumes that customer engagement and the way people interact with your brand remains constant. Not only does most activity that marketers run is designed to do the opposite, such as changing the way that people think and interact with the brand, but the technique also uses data from up to three years ago.

Imagine if you could…

  • Know whether you’ll hit sales targets before the campaign launches
  • Shift media /creative during a campaign
  • Connect insights directly to activation partners

Jon Webb, Managing Partner at Gain Theory, shares the latest predictive analytics techniques in a panel at Marketing Week’s Data Storytelling Conference in London.

 

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