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.

The analytics era seems to finally have arrived in marketing. 

The question is, “Are marketers actually ready?”

For example, three-quarters of brands say they are spending more on marketing technology this year, with 24% claiming to be spending significantly more, according to a recent Forrester report.

It looks like marketers are finally taking this seriously.

At the same time, just 10% of brands in that report say they have a clear picture of who their customers actually are. Not just the data, but who they are as people, and how that affects their consumption habits.

Something’s not right here. I suspect we know why.

We’ve heard more than a few stories like this. A major marketer is fixated on using advertising to drive acquisitions and wants to better manage its return on investment. So, it turns to one of the many technology partners in the market for help in building a multi-touch attribution (MTA) models.

The marketer is excited about the promise of better analytics, so they invest a significant amount of time and money along the way. Then they start getting insights back, and realize they have loads of questions they can’t answer, such as:

“Are these numbers good or bad?” 

“What is success?” 

“What should we do with this information?”

“How do we take this insights and move our budget to places that will drive more acquisitions?” 

Faced with all these fundamental questions, instead of taking the bold action they dreamed about, the marketer freezes. Eventually the company abandons the MTA tool with little to show for their investment.

Like I said, we’ve seen and heard lots of stories like this. We can help make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Making effective marketing decisions is complicated. 

There are many considerations to determine which strategies are working and which ones aren’t, but that’s only the first piece of the puzzle. Once you figure this out, the next question is always “Why?” and then “What can we do about it?” 

That’s why so many marketers are investing in advanced analytics tools like Multi Touch Attribution and Market Mix Modelling. These kinds of products theoretically answer those questions, helping you guide effective decision making and uncover optimization opportunities. 

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.

Which is great, but only if these brands get a return on their analytics investment.

This is easier said than done. I’ve seen many organizations adopt advanced analytics approaches but fail to use the insight gained in an effective way. 

In almost every case, these brands want to improve ROMI (return on marketing investment). Yet as they proceed with their analysis, they often realize that different pockets of the organization have very different definitions of ROMI.

If everybody has a different measuring stick for success, as a marketer you will not be able to make many informed decisions. You probably suffer a perpetual state of indecision.

The good news is, we’ve seen this play out before, and we can help you through it. Here are five ways you can avoid letting your analytics investment languish – and turn your insights into powerful, profitable action for your organization.

Determine clear KPIs for the business and have the entire company agree upon them. This can be done by having open honest conversations about what the drivers of your business are. 

Hold everyone accountable to those KPIs. If there is no accountability, people will not take action upon results, leading to a lot of wasted resources. The Harvard Business Review has outlined five ways to hold people accountable: 

Clear expectations

Clear capability

Clear measurement

Clear feedback 

Clear consequences 

Train teams to accurately interpret the results. It’s crucial that your people must understand what the outputs are telling them in order to implement effective actions to drive business growth. For example, ROI is a simple metric that many marketers understand, but what they may not know is what is considered good/bad for an ROI. 

Bring together additional considerations to tell the full story. There is more to performance than just what the model tells us. A marketer should ask themselves why something is performing well or badly. For example, who was the target audience? Is there an opportunity to invest more into those tactics? What additional media was in market? Were there additional factors at play that could have influenced results?

Partner closely with your analytics teams. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many organizations in which these two groups work in silos, which results in marketers not always being clear on what they need, and analytics teams providing less than actionable insights. On the flip side, when the two groups come together, I’ve seen them come up with those Ah-ha! moments marketers dream about when starting their analytics journeys.

Only when all these factors come together can marketers extract the true value out of their models, as they will be empowered to make smarter business decisions. 

For example, a client of ours previously had a seasonal campaign running. Before it started, everyone, including the senior leadership team, came together to determine and agree upon the main KPIs.

We built a multi-attribution model to measure against the KPIs and trained the client and media agency on how to accurately interpret the results. Multiple stakeholders with different types of data and insights came together to discuss the results and it was determined that some creative messages weren’t resonating with their customers. 

Therefore, the company adjusted their creative in their media during their campaign. This resulted in a multi-million dollar increase in revenue, which more than paid for the models. 

In the example above, all the pieces of the puzzle came together to empower marketers to make smarter business decisions which drove more value for their organization.

It can be done – with the right help.

Originally published on The Drum

Lindsay Egan is a partner at Gain Theory

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 



Gain Theory, the global marketing effectiveness consultancy that inspires marketing excellence, has expanded its North America operation by opening an office on the West Coast in San Francisco, adding to existing hubs in New York and Minneapolis.

The expansion strengthens the consultancy’s partnerships with marketers on the west coast and underscores Gain Theory’s commitment to delivering ‘always-on’ marketing effectiveness programs for its clients in various time zones.

As a leading global marketing effectiveness consultancy, Gain Theory has experts distributed across North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific servicing clients in 113 markets across a range of sectors.

“The decision to create a foothold on the West Coast was a logical step in our business growth and client support strategy” says Shawn O’Neal, CEO North America. “Some of the most sophisticated marketers in North America are located there and it’s critical that we meet clients where they live to service them most effectively.”

The San Francisco office will be led by Marina Stuefer, Client Development Lead. Marina has almost a decade experience in the advanced analytics field, helping organizations turn data into actionable insights, to help build sustainable business growth.

Over the course of her career, she has led multi-country client engagements in Fast Food, Retail and Finance adopting a range of techniques such as Econometric Modeling, Machine Learning and Test and Learn. Her counsel has helped clients understand their consumer’s brand interactions, optimize media mix and flighting, forecast multi-year returns from investments, understand business drivers and course-correct marketing activities.

“I am excited about the opportunity to strengthen our client development and support on the west coast,” says Marina. “It’s an exciting time for marketers and Gain Theory is really well placed to help navigate their journey to marketing excellence via the data, advanced analytics and consultancy capabilities we offer.”

Chris Sloane, Senior Partner at Gain Theory heads up contributing authors in the Admap March issue which focuses around the topic of Frequency: How much is too much?

In his article, Chris Sloane looks at the history of frequency theory and what this can teach us in today’s media environment.

Below is an extract from the full article which can be found here.


In an age of multi-channel media planning, shorter consumer attention spans and ad avoidance, marketers and their agencies need to think hard about the issue of frequency when designing media strategies. Too little and the campaign risks having no impact, too much and advertisers are likely to be wasting money. And while it is true that even a perfect advertising schedule is not going to make an ineffective ad effective, it is also true that good scheduling can improve the payback of a campaign.

There has been widespread debate since the 1970s about whether a low-frequency, high-reach strategy is better than a high-frequency lower-reach one. This debate has intensified in recent years with the balance tipping towards the former approach.

In this article, we look at:

  • The history of frequency theory
  • What history can teach us today

Need to know

There are several points that media planners should be aware of when designing a schedule to invest their clients’ money, understanding these will improve and help to justify their planning:

  1. Can they make an estimation of the relative benefit of subsequent exposures? Various factors have the potential to make subsequent exposures in a given time-period more desirable, such as advertising NPD vs. established brands or levels of competitor pressure.
  2. Is it a seasonal campaign? For example, a retailer advertising at Christmas or Easter – multiple frequency in a short period of time is likely to be beneficial here.
  3. What is the degree of ad avoidance by media channel? The higher this is, the more frequency is to be valued. The level of ad avoidance by media channel should have an influence on how each channel is planned – maybe tight frequency capping for online isn’t always so desirable after all?
  4. What levels of advertising and brand recall can be expected for the message that is to be delivered? The lower these are, the more role frequency has to play.
  5. It is incumbent upon media planners not to have a one size fits all approach to their clients’ planning requirements. It is imperative to understand the nuance of the campaign, the brand and the category. Media planning in today’s world should be an exciting challenge, the evolving role of frequency makes it more so.

To read the full article click here.

Diageo North America, one of Gain Theory’s long-standing clients, scooped the Data and Analytics Adoption category in the ANA 2018 Genius Awards. The award represents the best, brightest, most innovative and impactful work in marketing analytics today.

In their award-winning entry Diageo demonstrated how they were able to leverage granular insights gained by Gain Theory’s Multi Touch Attribution solution Sensor, as well as demonstrating cultural alignment around data and analytics to boost business outcomes.


Multi Touch Attribution for Granular insights

Diageo has had market mix modelling embedded within the business for a number of years.  However, they were looking for enhanced insights to allow them to make tangible, informed in-campaign decisions.

Trialing Sensor allowed Diageo to leverage in depth analysis, alongside promotions, trade and much more.

Results: In-Campaign Optimizations

By leveraging Gain Theory’s Multi Touch Attribution Solution Sensor, Diageo have been able to get deeper overall optimization insights across 95% of their media spend.

Lindsey Kantarian, Brand Manager, Captain Morgan, Diageo North America, says:

“We have the ability to make real-time optimizations. If television is one of your tactics, which program of television is most effective for you? On the digital side, are display ads or video ads working harder for you? On a social side, which campaign is working hardest for you? And then by creative partner, as well.”

Watch the entry video on the ANA website here.

On November 13th Diageo North America, a global leader in beverage alcohol, handed Gain Theory the Value Creation award in its 2018 Supplier Awards. Hosted by our clients, the evening was dedicated to recognizing partners that drive value for Diageo by delivering outstanding quality, partnership and performance.

Shawn O’Neal, CEO North America and Chris Necchi, Associate Director at Gain Theory, joined our clients at Diageo’s newly opened Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House where the awards were hosted.

Gain Theory is delighted to have been named as the “Value Creation Supplier of the Year” for work the Gain Theory team has delivered to quantify and optimize marketing efforts across key brands within Diageo’s portfolio.

The Value Creation award recognizes Gain Theory as having demonstrated the deepest commitment to Diageo’s continuous improvement culture while driving year over year cost reductions and overall value. It also recognizes that Gain Theory create and maintain value creation through reliable performance, understanding of business needs and dedication to driving joint value.

“Winning this award goes well beyond the work we deliver to our clients.” says Karen Kaufman, Gain Theory’s Global CSO. “True partnership and collaboration is the special ingredient that unlocks value every day with Diageo. We’d like to say a big “thank you” to Diageo for the award, but also to the forward-thinking folks we work with each day – this award is as much theirs as it is ours.”

To see the full press release click here.

Shawn O'NealGain Theory, the global marketing effectiveness consultancy that helps marketing and insight professionals make faster, smarter business decisions through data, technology and advanced analytical solutions, today announced the appointment of Shawn O’Neal as CEO North America. As well as leading the North American business, he will work with the global leadership team to implement the vision and strategy for Gain Theory.

O’Neal joins Gain Theory with over two decades of experience formulating and implementing successful business growth strategies by harnessing enterprise level information and incorporating advanced analytics to generate rapid and improved business growth. He has held strategic, analytic and consulting roles at global organizations including Unilever, McKinsey & Co and Pepsi.

While at Unilever as VP of Global Data Marketing and Analytics, O’Neal pioneered and led the company’s ambitious People Data Center program which built the foundations, tools and analytic approaches to unleash the use of data-driven insights in business decision making.  Today, this program involves over 250 people in over 25 locations globally, supporting the business from information management to advanced analytic solutions in forecasting, media modeling, CRM, digital and social analytics.

Prior to his Global VP role at Unilever, O’Neal was the organization’s first Director of Analytics for the Americas and held various strategic positions on the front lines of Unilever’s sales organization after being recruited from McKinsey & Co. His education includes an MBA from the Wharton Business School and an Economics degree from Princeton University.

By appointing O’Neal to its global leadership team, Gain Theory is further underscoring its commitment to delivering client-led data and advanced analytics solutions with a high touch consultancy approach.

“We operate in an continuously evolving market that requires constant focus on the ability to accelerate growth while providing trusted advice to business decision makers,” said Gain Theory Global CEO Manjiry Tamhane. “Shawn is a highly experienced innovator in the field of advanced analytics and has proven experience in providing strategic consultancy advice to clients. He has the ability to connect the dots between business needs, data, and action for growth. I am very excited to have Shawn join Gain Theory.”

“Today, there’s an overflow of information and a complexity in marketing measurement solutions that makes it difficult for business decision makers to choose the right paths in their digital transformation journey” said O’Neal. “Gain Theory is very smart in simplifying and providing the right solutions, which makes it extremely well placed to help business leaders make better, faster, more efficient decisions every day.  I look forward to joining the Gain Theory leadership team in defining this next chapter.”

O’Neal is based in New York and will report into Gain Theory’s Global CEO, Manjiry Tamhane.

For more information:

Claudia Sestini
Global Marketing & Communications Officer


Gain Theory, the global marketing effectiveness consultancy that brings together data, analytic and technology solutions to help marketers make smarter, faster business decisions, is proud to announce its continuing partnership with EffWorks.

EffWorks is an initiative led by the IPA that champions accountability in marketing and is committed to promoting a culture of Marketing Effectiveness from C-Suite, all the way through organisations. The initiative is supported by a heavyweight list of client side advisors including Telefonica, Jaguar Land Rover, Barclays, ASOS, Lego and 15 others. The initiative is also supported by various industry associations across US, UK and China including MRS, ISBA, TMS, IAB, PRCA as well as 4A’s, WFA, Warwick Business School and Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

Gain Theory will act as an unbiased Marketing Effectiveness advisor to the EffWorks Advisory Board, with Managing Partner, Jon Webb, representing the global consultancy.

As part of the 2018 partnership, the consultancy – in collaboration with client side marketers and industry leaders – will further develop the ‘Measurement Strategy in the Digital Era’ green paper released in 2017, into a white paper which aims to give marketers a practical tool kit around marketing measurement including marketing effectiveness culture, contextual sector specific metrics, best practise, blue prints for success, standardised language and success case studies.

Gain Theory’s continued partnership with the EffWorks initiative demonstrates the consultancy’s commitment to helping client side marketers navigate the evolving marketing effectiveness landscape, with practical advice on holistic measurement that delivers tangible business outcomes.

Alan Bloodworth, Gain Theory’s EMEA  CEO says ”We are at an inflection point for Marketing Effectiveness Measurement – never have we had as much data and measurement options as we do today – and marketers’ needs and business level of maturity in measurement vary. Via the green paper and the EffWorks initiative in 2017, we were able to consult on the ‘state of the nation’ and build a foundation for this year’s initiative which will see us collaboratively answer and solve many common challenges and pain points”.

Janet Hull, Director of Marketing Strategy at the IPA, who spearheads the EffWorks initiative says, “EffWorks is an initiative to encourage our evidence-based decision making in marketing and our annual EffWeek programme (9- 12 October 2018) will present the latest thinking on media and creative integration, and how to create value for brands. We are delighted to be working with Gain Theory again in 2018 to deliver those programmes and in particular our Measurement Strategy White Paper which will be announced during EffWeek 2018”.

Watch Jon Webb, Managing Partner at Gain Theory, talk about the EffWeek 2017 Green Paper ‘Measurement Strategy in the Digital Era’.

The introduction of GDPR in May 2018 is going to cause a significant shift in how companies carry out personalised marketing.

However, for savvy marketing leaders, it represents an opportunity to significantly improve customer engagement. Those companies who are prepared, are thinking holistically, and who can demonstrate value back to their customers, are well-placed to succeed in this new world.

Restricted use of Personal Data

An increasing number of marketing channels use Personal Data, such as Programmatic Display and Addressable TV (and online identifiers such as cookies will be considered as Personal Data within GDPR). This type of targeted media does not always use personal data which is controlled by the advertiser, but still requires the use of personal data collected by a third party. The new regulations do not solely impose obligations on data controllers but also on data processors i.e. advertisers buying in personal data from a third party.

This means that advertisers will be obliged to apply much greater scrutiny to the way in which the third party has communicated to the consumers whose personal data it is now selling on. There is a real risk that the pool of available third party data will be considerably reduced.  All marketing that uses Personal Data (including third party data) should be identified, and then reviewed from the perspective of the customer.

Add Value to Customers

The increased requirements in obtaining consent for the use of personal data to direct marketing activity has the potential to lead to a much lower percentage of customers that can be marketed to. Therefore, marketing content will need to be viewed in a positive enough light by customers that choose to receive it.

In practical terms, GDPR is making us stop and think harder about marcoms, going back to basics and re-evaluating key questions such as ‘do our customers benefit from receiving our marketing?’. If the answer is ‘no’, then this type of marketing activity will no longer be viable in the post GDPR world, as why would any customer actively choose to receive marketing that does not benefit them? If the answer is ‘yes’, then the customer has a reason for choosing to receive marketing, and for many customers it will be in their best interests to do so.

So, in the run up to GDPR, marketers need to think about how their content and communications demonstrate value to customers. Consider the following points:

  • Authenticity: marketing must be clear and honest in its purpose. Content should offer customers genuine value. For example, avoid embellishing an offer which sounds good but has lots of restrictions.
  • Personalisation: demonstrate to customers that their personal information is being used for their own benefit, by providing tailored content that meets the customer’s needs.
  • Creative Execution: try to make the content stand out to ensure it is seen (but not at the expense of authenticity).
  • Frequency: as tempting as it might be to push  out as much content as possible before GDPR comes into force, this might be counterproductive. Lower frequency but high impact (authentic, personalised and valuable) is the best strategy to influence customers’ perceptions of marketing content.

Think Holistic and Cross Platform

Personalised and direct marketing needs to be viewed as part of a holistic marketing strategy, not just in isolation. Whilst non-personalised marketing such as above-the-line advertising will not be directly affected by GDPR, it still plays a key role in influencing customers’ brand and marketing perceptions. Think about the messages you are putting out in the run-up and around GDPR to help underscore value in the customer’s mind and ensure your cross-channel messages tie up. If direct marketing is not aligned to other marketing content, it will appear inauthentic regardless of the truth of the content.

Whilst it is easy to view GDPR negatively it is, in fact, driving many good practices in marketing and not only in the day-to-day stewardship of personal data itself. A truly customer focused approach to marketing has been an ambition for many companies, and will now become a necessity. By forcing marketers to think hard about how to improve the perception of their marketing amongst their customers, this regulation will help companies become more customer focussed and lead to an improvement in the overall quality of individual marketing.


What is it?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the new EU-wide regulation for personal data that takes effect on 25th May 2018. This regulation will give individuals more control over how their Personal Data is collected, stored, used and deleted. Note that Personal Data includes a wider range of information than PII (Personally Identifiable Information), especially when it comes to online identifiers.

Legal compliance

The primary concern for any business should be to be operating legally within the GDPR as soon as the new regulation comes into force, as failure to do so could lead to a heavy fine. Many companies that use personal will have a Data Protection Officer who is responsible for compliance with GDPR (this is a legal requirement for some types of processing activity only). A good starting point for any marketer would be to talk to your organisation’s Data Protection Officer (if you have one).

What this means for marketers

The most important consideration for marketers is that they must have a legal basis for processing personal data.  Where they rely on consent as the legal basis the new regulation raises the bar for that consent and it must be “freely given, specific, informed” and signified by an “affirmative action”. This means individuals must actively signal their agreement to the use of their personal data (pre-checked opt-in tick boxes and offering an opt-out tick box for example, are unlikely to satisfy the regulations). It also means that clear, plain English language, must be used to explain what the individual is agreeing to and the specific use cases need to be carefully explained. Furthermore, at the same time as obtaining consent individuals must be told how they can later withdraw their consent at any time.

This will impact any marketing activity that uses personal data, so the largest impact will be on Direct Marketing (both direct mail and email). Online advertising using customer information that falls within the GDPR description of Personal Data, such as programmatic display, will also be affected. Companies must assess in respect of all customers (new and existing) what the legal basis is upon which they rely to validly use their personal information for marketing purposes – to use it without a legal basis will be unlawful.

© Gain Theory 2020. All rights reserved.