Dear Marketers

We are in an unprecedented time of change and now more than ever need to work collaboratively to create solutions that help sustain business and the economy. As we progress through the next few months, bracing a new normal will become our new normal.

As marketers, you will have questions such as ‘will my brand survive?’  and ‘what can I do in the short term to protect my brand and then help it recover in the longer term’.

At Gain Theory, we are accustomed to using data to model uncertain scenarios, both in the long and short term. Many of the techniques used to forecast future impacts of marketing and media do not necessarily apply in this uncertain world. Whereas techniques such as Agent Based Modelling, currently used by governments to understand the impact of Covid-19, can also be used to help brands such as yours.

There are many ways in which to support decision making using data in an uncertain world.

To help guide you through this challenging time we are opening a brand-side marketer’s ‘helpline’ offering complimentary 30-minute Q&A sessions with our experts who will answer any questions you may have.

To join the sessions please email

In the meantime, if you’re just looking for decision making inspiration during these uncertain times, we’ve curated some quick reads below from our Marketing Measurement and Optimization experts to help stimulate your thinking and get you on your feet.

We will be publishing more articles to support you in making the right decisions over the coming months as the global situation develops.

Simulating Consumer ‘New Normal’ Behaviour to Answer ‘What if..?’

Classical economic theory assumes that individuals are rational. However, in the real world, we often see irrational behavior. In times of crisis even more so. Simulating potential consumer behaviours in the face of change can help brands with strategic planning and war gaming in the face of:

  • Demographic changes e.g. the implications of a younger or ageing population
  • Cultural changes e.g. recreational shifts from one activity to another
  • Competitive changes e.g. the emergence of new or alternative brands

One leading global brand approached Gain theory with a burning question:

What are the conditions that lead to seismic shifts in our market in which one category starts to grow and take share from others? Also, how can these shifts be anticipated in the future to give us a competitive advantage?

Our experts applied Agent Based Modelling, a simulation that reflects the real-world behaviour of a population. Their findings helped this brand forecast and plan for future market behaviour via:

  • Simulation of different trends and quantification of their potential impact on future sales within the market. 
  • Enhanced understanding of trend drivers and controllable factors. 
  • Testing of various scenarios and impact of doing nothing, launching a new product development, increasing media spend, or what might happen if the competitor does instead. 
  • Clear view on the impact of environmental changes such as working patterns shifting.

Brand vs Performance: Where should the Pendulum Swing?

Our experts give a point of view on what proportion of marketing budget should be spent on brand advertising and performance advertising. They examined 3 scenarios:

  1. Taking a brand off air
  2. Spending heavily on brand
  3. Spending heavily on performance

Three scenarios are below or you can read the full article here:

1. Taking a brand off air

If brand spend is cut, there can be a short-term improvement on profitability.  However, in the longer term we’ve seen profitability go negative, due to the lost sales outweighing the cut in costs.  One client of Gain Theory, a short term $0.4m gain turned into a $1.1m loss. Erosion of brand metrics follows: we’ve seen clients where brand metrics have declined for at least 3 years following a cut of brand advertising.  It is then harder and takes longer to recover from this and in that client, we subsequently quantified a negative effect on sales of 20%. So, while this approach can be appealing to hit short term targets, it can be hugely damaging in the long run.  This leaves one asking: is it worth it?

2. Spending heavily on brand

Some businesses will invest significantly in brand for a specific purpose, for example to build awareness or tell stories to keep the brand feeling relevant and alive for customers.  This type of investment can be a brave decision for marketers without appropriate measurement, as there is unlikely to be an immediate sales result.

One of our clients invests significantly in their brand advertising throughout the year.  They view this as crucial to maintaining their strong brand position in the market and place importance on tracking brand metrics to measure its impact.   They also see this spend build sales in the long term.  To balance out this heavy brand advertising, this client will also pulse with performance campaigns to ensure they are also meeting sales expectations in the short term.

3. Spend heavily on performance

In some clients, we’ve seen a move towards heavily investing in promotions.  Unsurprisingly, this shows immediate uplifts in sales and profit.  As well as producing seductive metrics, it can also be very attractive from an investment POV.  And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that – everyone needs to drive sales.  However, taking a longer view, we’ve seen clients where significant spending on price and promotions brought a negative impact on the brand and value for money metrics.

Demand Generation: 9 Golden Rules

Senior Partner, Matthew Chappell gives us a practical best practice campaign measurement guide that will enable businesses to effectively evaluate, learn and grow their media returns. 

For the downloadable version click here.

For the video presentation ‘Demand Generation’ click here which covers (a) How to balance trade off decisions (b) 9 golden rules of measurement (c) How Kellogg’s are accelerating analysis.

The 9 Golden Rules:

  1. Define success. Avoid the Texas sharpshooter fallacy: Painting the target once the shots have been fired.
  2. Use a level playing field. Treat every channel alike. Think about the metrics used for (a) inputs (b) outputs and (c) outcomes.
  3. Know your fundamentals across all media channels. Cost per thousand impressions, cost per TVR, viewability, advertising context etc.
  4. Right methodology, right job. Don’t use partial advanced analytics methods, like digital attribution, for holistic challenges.
  5. Triangulate. Seek consensus from multiple sources.
  6. Timely results. Be honest and realistic about what can be delivered.
  7. Be choosey about metrics. Don’t succumb to death by data.
  8. Allocate budget towards testing. Don’t optimize into a corner Be prepared to fail and learn.
  9. Context is important. Context changes so what worked in the past, might not work today. Apply human judgment to assess when this is true… and what to do next.

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

Lindsay Egan, Partner lends her counsel on how to make best use of insights and not fall into analysis paralysis.

Full length article found here.

Key takeaways:

  1. Align on ROMI: We often hear that different pockets of the organization have very different definitions of ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment). No one wants 5 different yard sticks to measure success by. Have an open and honest conversation about what the drivers of your business are.
  2. Hold your team accountable: this involves: clear expectations; clear capability; clear measurement; clear feedback and clear consequences.
  3. Triangulate Decision-Making: in light of the current climate it is particularly important to look beyond analytics models to understand marketing performance optimization opportunities. Who is the target audience? Is there an opportunity to invest more into specific marketing channels? What additional media is in the market? What will the next 2,4 and 6 weeks look like?
  4. Partner closely with your analytics teams:  give crystal clear direction on what the types of marketing decisions you need to make, when you need to make them and the format you need them in. This will guide your analytics teams on the insights they need to generate and help them figure out the best marketing analytics solutions to deliver.
  5. Involve your media agency and activation partners early: this will ensure everyone is aligned with coming up with the best solution.


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.

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.
Most online ad experiences still feel like a re-run of last week’s searches and purchases.

We’ve been talking about how advances in digital media and data will result in every person on the web seeing a deeply personalized ad for every occasion since the days of AOL dial-up.

Why, then, do most of our digital ad experiences still feel like a “groundhog day” of what we searched and bought in the previous week? (If you don’t agree, just take a spin around the web and let me know how customized and rewarding your ad experience feels.)

Given the immense amount of personal data at our fingertips, you’d think that by now we’d be communicating elegantly with each customer—precisely when, where, and how they would like to engage with our brands. You’d think, with programmatic buying, that we’d be able to do this and still achieve huge reach.

And you’d think, with AI, powerful ‘identity graphs’ and multi touch attribution (MTA), that it would be easy to execute and measure these sophisticated conversations.

Yet personalization remains mostly a fantasy and right now it’s just not happening between brands and people. It’s time to examine why and to ask ourselves: Is personalization even a good idea in the first place?

Reality check
In trying to achieve one-to-one marketing, we might actually be putting our brands at risk of fragmented messaging, multiple personalities and vapor for brand equity. And even if we actually pull this off, there is a ton of mythology surrounding our ability to successfully execute micro-campaigning at the kind of scale we need to move markets and competitive share.

Often this comes down to simple math. If you target a specific slice of the web population using the powerful segmenting tools at your disposal, you may start with a million prospects. But, for every attribute you apply, you end up slicing that group thinner and thinner. Very quickly, you may find that your sophisticated marketing efforts have led you to a handful of shaving cream enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest.

And we’re not even touching on the grand delusion that MTA can measure it all.

In our experience, working with even the biggest brands, MTA exercises are extremely complicated, expensive, require a crazy amount of work and rarely pay off.

It’s natural for CMOs to want to figure out exactly how every interaction with their brand leads to a purchase over a day, a week, a month and a year—and how much they should be spending on each media touchpoint to deliver that purchase.

But, in terms of practicality, it’s as big a fantasy today as “Game of Thrones”.

And here’s the friction…
Even if it’s possible to execute messaging with such surgical precision, there’s the small matter of whether consumers actually want to connect one-on-one with brands—even the ones they love.

In a survey from March 2018, more than half of adult respondents reported either neutral or negative receptivity towards personalized ads and the influence of such ads on their buying decisions.

We’re at a point where consumers are more savvy, empowered (hello ad blockers) and informed than ever. They are clicking permission check boxes and they are reading about EU fines for Google/Facebook and massive data breaches around the world. We haven’t even begun to solve the privacy issues associated with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, while the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will soon be upon us in the U.S. Will identity graphs even be legal in the future?

The future is uncertain, but it will be bright
What we’re left with is a whole new world of ad targeting. We think consumers will end up in a place where they have far greater control and transparency around how they are being targeted.

They may even—wait for it-—agree to get paid by brands for their attention.
That may seem a little far-fetched now, but it actually represents a huge opportunity. Imagine a world where consumers actively engage in what they see and don’t see and they are actually “bought” into the relationship? Instead of wasting billions of dollars on unwanted ads, we will invest where ads are relevant and welcomed by those willing to be compensated.

It can’t get more personal than that.

Originally published on Ad Age

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 



Simply improving sales and showing you’ve done so is no longer enough, Marketing Managers must also be able to demonstrate greater value and prove the true impact of every element of their activity – from email campaigns and online banner ads, through to direct mail and TV advertising.

With marketing departments facing increasing internal pressure from their become vitally important to identify new mechanics that can meaningfully justify their spend to the Board, particularly as marketing is now being seen more as a cost that can be cut than an on-going investment.

So why not treat this spend as you would any other cost to the business, by relating it back to the bottom line and, more importantly, the share price? We all think about the bottom line, but share price isn’t normally factored in directly. Lately, I’ve started thinking that it should (and could) be.

Measuring the short-term effect of (for example) an advertising campaign is important. Among other things, it allows marketers to evaluate and amend what they are doing as the campaign progresses; however, short-term measurement doesn’t help when it comes to understanding the bigger picture. Even when long-term effects are measured under-reporting of the true financial impact is likely. Why? Because standard approaches fail to take into account the potential impact on a company’s share price. This isn’t because it’s not viewed as being important, it’s more that no one has put forward a method to measure it accurately.

Imagine the scenario; your Finance Director (FD) needs to cut back on spending. They identify the areas where they might be able to reduce costs and then stop and ask themselves, should I get the Marketing Manager to cut their budget? Now, on first reflection, it might appear to them that the risk of cutting this type of spend is comparatively low. Do this and the bottom line will instantly look a lot healthier.

But this got me thinking, is this really providing an accurate picture? Can this be properly evaluated? A simple mathematical approach reveals such measures to be a false economy.

We can add in additional detail like deleveraging and interest payments as well as the impact on investor sentiment, but these are details and don’t affect the thrust of the argument.

I think this method makes it possible to track marketing effectiveness back to the share price. If you consider that your marketing activity usually creates (for example) a 2.5 return in terms of margin, cost cutting of this type starts to look less appealing. If your annual marketing budget is £10m and you decide to halve it, that £5m cut may increase your cash flow in the short-term and win you favour with the Board. However, the long-term impact is a £12.5m drop in profit and a net loss of £7.5m.

Therefore, what seemed like a clever cost cutting mission to begin with actually costs the business money. Your business might end up losing more money than it saved.

Of-course, your FD might question the ROI calculation and on balance of risk, cut the budget anyway. However, the actual loss could turn into a much more serious mistake in the long run, having a huge impact on the profitability of the company and ultimately the share price. For this reason alone it will always be worth making the case against such measures being taken. The figures break down like this:

As the table shows, the potential loss working through a lower share price and market capitalisation is actually closer to £60m than £7.5m.

In addition, while the FD might still question the ROI calculation, the balance of risk begins to shift when you look at the numbers in this way

All other significant investments are evaluated in terms of their impact on profit, with calculated internal rates of return and the opportunity cost of the capital invested. Why don’t we look at marketing in the same way? Is this too much of a simplification?

Are there other variables to be looked at that I’ve failed to mention? I’d welcome your thoughts.



Analysis conducted by Gain Theory

Why this is important?

In the last decade, marketing has changed beyond all comprehension.

The rise of digital, big data, programmatic, addressable et al have given marketers a multitude of opportunities, the number of which continues to dramatically grow.

Like an all you can eat buffet, the choice can be both exciting and overwhelming; it’s very easy to make rash, regrettable decisions.


There has been a similar rise in marketing analytics techniques. It has never been easier to see how well your marketing investment is performing, in clicks, likes, sentiment, web visits, phone calls, applications, sales, profit. But too many of these techniques focus on easily measurable metrics, which often give an alarmingly short-term view.

To counter this, Gain Theory has run a study which looks at the long-term impact of marketing, across a range 7 key categories and 29 brands. The aim is two-fold: to show how marketing impacts business revenue and profit in the long term; and to show how marketers can make the right decisions to drive long-term growth.

We believe this is key to the future success of the advertising industry. If we continue to focus on short term metrics, we miss the full picture.

For instance, across the brands Gain Theory analysed, digital attribution was shown to measure only 18% of the full long-term impact of marketing on sales. Econometric techniques bridge the gap, but only get us 42% of the way there.

Only by looking at marketing through a long-term lens can we truly understand the full impact.


The aim of Gain Theory’s Long Term analysis is to measure and understand the Long-Term Multiplier (LTM) to short term impact. To understand how it works, let’s run through an example, and say that a brand ran a £5m TV campaign. Econometric analysis could measure its short-term impact at (for example) £10m in value sales, thus giving a short-term ROI of £2 (£10m value sales divided by £5m spend). The LTM tells us how much this impact grows in the long term. If we measured a LTM of 3x, then this would be because the long-term impact of the campaign was £30m. Please note, this is total so the £30m includes the initial £10m short term impact. The overall long-term ROI is £6 (short-term ROI of £2 multiplier by 3).

The LTM is measured by analysing the base – i.e. the level of sales return in the long-term if a brand ran no marketing, which can be seen as a measure of a combination of mental and physical availability, or brand strength. Standard econometric practise is to use a flat base, which does not move over time. However, one of marketing’s functions is to change tastes and preferences in the long term. So if we allow the base to change in the long term, we can reflect these long term movements in tastes and preferences. And if we can understand how marketing impacts the base then we can show how many long-term sales were driven by marketing, giving us the long-term multiplier.

Gain Theory has run this analysis across 29 brands to understand the trends at a macro level. How do advertisers drive long-term sales? What media channels have the biggest impact on long-term sales, and thus the highest LTM? How can marketers use this information to their benefit, to drive long-term business health?


1. TV has the greatest long term multiplier of all media channels

Across all categories, TV has an average LTM of 2.35. The only other channel with an LTM over 2 is Out of Home:

This persists across categories:

TV also has the highest efficacy, with its 25% point (e.g. the point at which 25% of LTMs are higher, and 75% are lower) being higher than all other media at 3.87; the next highest is VOD at 3.52.

2. Activation and direct response media can drive stunning ST ROIs but lack LT impact; whereas brand media have the best LTMs

As seen above, the LTMs for Search, Display, and Radio are at the lower end of the spectrum, whereas TV, VOD, Print, and OOH are in the top 4 across categories.

There is clearly important for CMOs and CFOs alike. If certain media are driving high short-term returns but have a limited long term impact, and if we’re only measuring the short-term impact, we are likely to be missing out on large potential long term revenue drivers, potentially causing harm to the business.

​3. What drives LTM?

The strongest drivers of LTM are levels of brand media investment, and the number of bursts of activity. Where we have seen brands invest in media such as TV, VOD, Print, and OOH, at a level which is over and above their competitive set, we have seen higher LTMs than where investment has been under that seen in the competitive set.

Additionally, there are benefits to persisting with a campaign. The LTM from running three bursts is double that of a campaign which only has one burst of activity.

4. Which factors indicate long term effect? What tools can marketers use to understand if their marketing is having an impact in the long term?

The greatest indicator of long term effect from media is the level of base sales, as Gain Theory has modelled here. However, this can take time to observe as base shifts are measured in months and years, and can often require advanced statistical techniques.

In lieu of a base modelling approach, there are three key ways in which long term effect becomes apparent and can be observed:

  1. Impact on brand equity metrics
  2. Impact on price elasticity
  3. Impact on activation metrics
4.1 Brand Metrics

Brand metrics often give a guide to long term brand strength. While the choice of brand metrics can be overwhelming, with many advertisers running surveys with hundreds of questions, it is normally a small range of metrics which provide this guide. In 65% of cases, consideration forms the closest link to base sales, where growth in consideration causes growth in the base. The level of impact form consideration differs from industry to industry and brand to brand, but a guide is that a 1%pt increase in consideration can be expected to drive a 0.5 – 2% increase in base sales.

A slightly more advanced method is to observe a small basket of metrics, generally comprising awareness, consideration, and those brand metrics which have a close link to base sales. These will differ by brand and industry, but commonly used brand metrics include value for money, trust, and service. Tracking a basket can give a business a ‘campfire’ number – easy to track and observe whilst indicating long term success. Indeed, for a number of large advertisers, while growth in brand metrics is always welcomed, a lot of advertising spend is aimed at maintaining the brand, the base sales, and ultimately the business. (see next section).

4.2 Price elasticity

Another way in which long term health can be measured is by analysing price elasticity over time. The theory is that consumers will overlook price differences for a brand which they believe is higher quality, or a brand in which they have more trust – e.g. Boots own-brand Ibuprofen vs Nurofen; the products are the same, the price points are vastly different.

This has been shown in a number of Gain Theory case studies. In one FMCG case study, the price elasticity went from -1 (e.g. a 10% rise in price causes a 10% drop in units sold) to -0.4 (a 10% rise in price causes a 4% drop in units sold). This happened over a three year time period in which the brand went from minimal brand advertising to a relatively consistent presence on TV & VOD.

It takes a significant amount of spend to shift price sensitivity, and this level of spend will depend on the category, the brand, the competition levels, and the quality of product. As a rule of thumb, share of voice is the best metric to consider – for every 10%pt of share of voice increased, we can expect a between 5%pt -20%pt reduction in price elasticity. However, there are diminishing returns to scale – if SOV is already at 50% there is a minimal impact of increasing to 55%, for example

5. If brand investment stops, things can go quickly wrong

It is rare, but not impossible, for brands to stop investing in brand media to save money. Below are three cases where this has happened and the warning signs advertisers can take from each case.

5.1 A retail bank stopped TV advertising

A retail bank had been advertising on TV & VOD consistently for two and a half years. In March 2013, they stopped and went dark for two years. There was an immediate short term impact as sales caused by TV dropped. But the long-term base impact was stark. Over two years their base dropped from 20,000 quotes a month to 11,000.

They were still able to generate quotes using other channels – but their efficiency reduced: e.g. generic paid search cost per quote increased by 20%, reflecting findings from section 4.3.

5.2 A financial services brand stopped TV advertising, when they returned it took 3 years to rebuild their base

A different financial services brand had been advertising on TV & VOD consistently, then stopped. They started advertising again after 2 years off air. Short term results were good: they saw the same cost per application and the same % uplift from TV. But their base had halved. It took 3 years to rebuild their base to pre-dark levels, using a continuous level of brand media to do so.

5.3 A travel brand went off air to protect profit; this had deleterious effects in the long term

A US-based travel brand took $3.4m out of their TV budget to save money. They lost 41,200 transactions in the short term, equivalent to $3m of profit. So the net impact was $0.4m profit added to the bottom line.

However, this brand did not account for the long-term impact. Taking base deterioration into account, the total long term transaction loss was 81,600, equating to a $4.5m loss in profit. The net loss from going off TV was -$1.1m.


As has been shown above, brand advertising can have a significant long-term impact, which is often missed by short-termism in marketing measurement. There are ways to understand the long-term impact, either by modelling, or by analysing brand metrics, price sensitivity, or activation media.

When undertaking this analysis, it can be shown that the media channels which drive long-term impact are those which have the time and space to tell a story and to embed themselves in consumer minds. Gain Theory’s analysis shows that, due to these features, TV is likely to be the best channel to drive long-term impact and, alongside it, business success.

In this world of multiple metrics and big data it can be easy to retreat into short-termism and easy to measure metrics. We encourage all advertisers to take a longer view to represent the full impact of marketing – otherwise we are doing the whole industry a disservice.

It was David Bowie who said, “you can’t stand still in one point your entire life.” And with Bowie’s words ringing posthumously in our heads, the same can still be said for marketers.

For several years now, we’ve been hearing about the so-called inevitable extinction of the CMO or how many are morphing into another alias – Chief Data Officer, Chief Customer Officer and more recently, the Chief Growth Officer.

Ever since the birth of mass advertising, arguably when the first advert popped up on Americans’ TV screen in 1941, advertising and marketing has constantly had to adapt and change to suit new mediums and an increasingly savvy audience.

Whilst it’s easy to veer into debate about a marketer’s alias, one thing remains constant: Marketing and marketers exist to drive growth.

The biggest headache for many marketers nowadays isn’t necessarily their job title or the hyperbole around it, it’s proving they are doing a great job at driving efficacy on their investments.

Brands and Marketing in 2018

We live in a world where profitable brand growth in some sectors has declined; economic and political uncertainty has kept us bracing for the worst; and there is an all-time low in trust concerning digital mediums from both advertisers and consumers. In this environment, many marketers are facing the same question:

‘What’s the single most important thing I need to think about when managing the efficacy of my marketing spend?’

With that question in mind, let’s start at the beginning…

Marketing Strategy = Business Strategy

With the foundation that marketing exists to drive business growth, we must consider our business strategy, goals and overall purpose.

Marketing strategy has to be synchronised with business strategy.

Whilst not rocket science, I believe this is why (in some instances) marketing fails to market itself and why some organisations have recently replaced the CMO with a ‘Chief Growth Officer’.. This shift is quite telling – in those cases it signals that the marketing function is not perceived as growth contributor or generating the required business outcomes by CEOs. Using the right language helps, of course, if your 2018 strategy is all about personalisation, storytelling, content or being data-centric, your CEO might think, “Great, but what does this mean to our bottom line?”.

As Manjiry Tamhane – Gain Theory’s Global CEO – recently said at the Advertising Association’s LEAD 2018 conference in London, “‘Marketing must be seen to be the engine of growth for businesses.”’.

As a senior marketer, being crystal clear on business strategy is imperative before embarking on any marketing strategy. This entails being clear on the answer to key business strategy elements such as:

  • What is our vision, mission and goal?
  • What is the five-year financial plan and where are we on that journey?
  • How are we going to get to our revenue goals – acquisitions, diversification, expansion, flotation, etc.?
  • What are the business priorities this year and next?

What are you trying to achieve?

The next question to tackle is: ‘What are our business goals, in the long- and short-term?’

Based on the purchase funnel, these can be broken down into two main areas:

  1. Demand Generation: what does your business need to achieve from an awareness and a perception point of view?
  2. Demand Conversion: following up on generation of demand, what do you need to achieve when it comes to customer intent and sales?

It’s incumbent on marketers to factor in the current state of the business. In other words, are you in growth stage like Airbnb is or do you need to maintain market position like Hertz?

How will you measure success?

Many marketers find themselves data rich but insights poor. During a CMO dinner with executives from several companies including Gain Theory and The Marketing Society, one marketer asserted, “Just because you can measure, doesn’t mean you can manage.”

To help drive the right insights, marketers must understand the metrics against which they will evaluate the success.

With measurement, there are two key considerations:

1. The ‘Right’ Metrics: Always link back to hard business data that ladder up to the business strategy and KPIs. For many companies, supporting data could point to sales revenue and profitability or a company’s share price.

2. Measure Holistically: Some marketing activity is demand generating while others are demand gathering. It’s important to understand how demand generating activity yields demand gathering activity in the future and how each channels contribution  to the path to purchase. Don’t just measure the short- term response to media – advertising seeks to change people’s tastes and preferences, and will have an impact on sales revenue for a much longer period.

Who else do you need?

Marketing is not just advertising and communications. We’ve moved on from the classic 4P model for quite some time and – there are many factors that impact growth and subsequently the Marketing Mix. In some companies, depending on the marketing organisation’s structure, some of these factors will lie outside of the marketing team’s ‘control,’ e.g. product, placement, process of delivery. So you need to think about who you will need to bring along in the journey to ensure a successful marketing strategy, that leads to business growth. Here are some thoughts to consider:

1. Organisational Alignment: It’s imperative to approach a marketing strategy consultatively, with partners who lead factors which will impact success. Smart questions to ask are: What can marketing do to help ensure success? What role can it play? Are we aligned on the same metrics that ladder up to business strategy?

2. Partner Alignment: Many CMOs and their teams lean on external partners to deliver their strategy including e.g. media agencies, PR firms, and specialists in content and , SEO. It’s incumbent on marketers to ensure full transparency on the goals, strategy and how you will measure success.

Close the Loop

As marketers we are constantly on a journey of re-invention in the face of consumer expectations, technology or market disruption.

What remains constant is that marketing has to be seen as the engine of growth so the choices we make along that journey, need to always come back ‘home’ to the core business strategy.

And as Bowie would say ‘The truth, of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time’.

Originally published on The Marketing Society website here.

The raison d’etre for the majority of Market Mix Modelling agencies is to calculate the marketing return on investment, or MROI.  Gain Theory takes a different approach – knowing the ROI is nice, but does little to solve the pain points of our customers –how to optimize marketing investment, the allocation between media channels and to ensure that all touchpoints are working coherently.

As one Marketing VP recently said in an independent CMO survey: “MMMs provide some insight into making better investments, but that is still fairly one dimensional”.

Because we start from a different position – dynamic improvement rather than static reporting – our approach is also different.

The common approach to media impact

By far and away, the most common approach to estimating the impact of media is to use an ad stock.  This may largely be seen as taking the ratings that your target audience had an opportunity to see and then decaying them.  Using a decay allows the media to be tested for an immediate effect, as well as an impact over the medium and longer term.

Now, this approach is fine if you are only concerned with identifying the ROI.

But it says nothing about wastage and it gives little insight into weekly phasing or even where diminishing returns begin to set in.  This is because a rating has little definitive to say about the chances of your target audience hearing or seeing an ad.

Ratings are a trading currency.  Nothing more.

Consider a simple example.  What do 20 TV ratings actually represent from a viewing perspective?  It could mean that 20% of your target audience have had an opportunity to see (OTS) one exposure.  Or it could mean that 10% are at 2 OTS.  Or some other combination.  On its own, it is impossible to say.  As ad stocks are based on this rather ambiguous metric, they have little to say about the level of reach or frequency required to drive improvements in your ROI.

Our tried and tested AdModel approach is much more forward thinking and considers five key parameters that provide key information for all stakeholders.

  1. Effective Frequency    
    How many exposures need to be seen to trigger a response?
  2. Recency Frequency    
    How many exposures need to be close to the purchase?
  3. Recency Window    
    What do we mean by ‘close’ – a week? 2 months?
  4. Memory Decay    
    How long is the exposure remembered?
  5. Habit       
    Is there repeat purchase?

The fifth parameter – Habit – describes the long term impact of converting new users – basically a measure of trial and repeat.  They may be completely new to the brand, or they may be existing users for who marketing has helped them discover new opportunities for use.

Going beyond ROI to help marketers take action

Identifying the first four parameters defines the budget required, the phasing strategy, and optimal investment.  For example, knowing that for your brand consumers need to see 4 exposures, 2 of them in the last 7 days throws up a completely different approach than if consumers just need 2 exposures, just 1 of which can be seen anytime within 2 weeks of the purchase decision.

Planning on norms, benchmarks and experience can lead to some serious inefficiencies.  Let’s look at the following simple example.

base plan to optimised plan

ratings alternative plan

The base plan from the agency seemed OK – continuity was deemed important, and running with a broadly constant level of weight.  However, the AdModel tells us that, to trigger a response from those active in the market, we need:

admodel table

Using this insight we can deliver a 30% increase in the ROI.  Based on science, not hunch.

As you can see, some big improvements in efficiency, just by understanding how media is working for you.  And this is for just one channel – the same efficiencies can be seen across the media and marketing mix.

This approach has been tested across all verticals and across all continents.  If you want to move away from reporting just an ROI to dynamically improving your marketing investments, it’s time to rethink your approach.

We all thought Google had injured paid search as we know it.

The company rolled out significant changes to its desktop Search Engine Results Page (SERP) layout last year. Essentially, it removed the sidebar of paid search results to the right of the page, leaving paid search with up to four ads at the top and three new added ads at the bottom of the page, leaving organic search sandwiched in the middle.

The sidebar change caused much panic among search marketers, who anticipated an increase in costs due to the reduced inventory, but some months in, there seems to have been minimal impact in cost. However, there is a casualty: paid search’s overlooked counterpart, Organic Search (SEO). Now pushed further down the page, reduced and generally maligned, it’s caught between two big paid search slices.

The SERP changes were followed by the arrival of extended text ads, arguably the most significant change in many years, which gave advertisers double the characters available. It was designed for mobile experience and the name of the game is now making sure you are taking better advantage of the longer ads than your competitors. This often means knowing when not to use them, but generally speaking, more text should equal more information to searchers, more pertinent responders and thus better Click Through Rates (CTRs) and conversions.

The quest to improve paid search has diminished the real estate for organic search results. And there is a less noticeable consequence: as traffic through free Organic Search decreases and is replaced by traffic through paid ads, there is actually a decrease in the incremental impact of Paid Search.

What do I mean by this?  Paid Search incrementally is the proportion of visits to a site, coming through the paid search channel, which disappears if the search ad doesn’t run. Incrementality excludes visits coming from alternative channels. A large factor in incrementality is the likelihood of getting to a site in the absence of a paid ad.

Every action that Google takes to expand Paid moves traffic away from Organic. This is a zero sum game for visits: the same number of people are making searches, arriving at the SERP, but are ever more likely to click a paid ad. Marketers are paying for a proportion of clicks that would have come anyway via organic. Paid Search is cannibalizing clicks from Organic Search.

This cannibalization has always been happening, but it is a growing and becoming a bigger problem for the advertiser. Google has addressed this by suggesting the cannibalization is small. It calculates that only 8 percent of paid ads have an associated organic ad on same page, but that still doesn’t address a number of key issues.

Firstly, the scope for direct cannibalization may be smaller across all paid ads but it will be larger for the bigger brands that have a strong organic ranking.  Secondly, it does not take into account indirect cannibalization. Paid search is usurping more traffic from Organic on the whole.

At the individual advertiser and SERP level, one brand’s PPC ad is stealing clicks from another brand’s Organic ad, whose own PPC ad is stealing from yet another’s SEO. There are winners and losers, but indirect cannibalization is difficult to quantify. One thing for sure is Paid is improving at the cost to Organic and delivers “less bang for your buck.”

Search can be a zero-sum game. The silent decline of SEO is matched by an increase of Search Engine Marketing. It’s generating a revenue boost for Google, but at the expense of everyone else. The more paid search, the more advertisers will pay for what was once free.

Article originally published by Campaign here



Digital marketing channels today are divergent – search, video, social, display, email, mobile – the list goes on. Marketers have a myriad of options to choose from to reach consumers to hit KPIs. But the biggest challenge is understanding which digital media work best…and how to optimize those.

The holy grail of many brands today is establishing which digital investment gets the credit for delivering a conversion event. Where should we spend our money? What can we cut from the budget? How? When?

As more media is bought digitally, more data is produced and with that comes an ability to measure effectiveness at a granular level.

The future is increasingly connected and for some big digital advertisers, requires the right measurement solution.

Digital Attribution can provide the right measurement and optimization solution. But you need the right tools and conditions to do so and what’s more – it’s not for everyone.

We have compiled an 8 Step Guide to Digital Attribution to help navigate marketers through the subject and understand whether it’s a journey they want to embark on.

The 8 steps are:

  1. Significant Digital Media Spend
  2. A Clear Online KPI
  3. A Skilled Team of Data Scientists
  4. The Right Purpose
  5. The Ability to Optimize Quickly
  6. The Right Data Set-Up
  7. Unified Digital Tracking
  8. The Right Methodology

You can read the in depth article published in AdMap, by downloading the article on the top right hand corner of this page.


Visit our website to view the video.


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