The marketing ecosystem applauds the idea of sound, data- and result-driven measurement, reminding itself every now and then that if it can’t measure it, it can’t improve it. But marketing attribution and measurement frameworks in the industry are still far from comprehensive and mature. And often, they are really far off the mark too. Here’s how.
What quantifies channel performance today
With digital marketing becoming the new normal, metrics like clicks and impressions are on nearly every marketing effectiveness deck today. In recent years, both agencies and brand marketers have been using it to quantify everything from brand affinity to ad performance.
In fact, one of the funniest tweets from Cannes this year was a sarcastic take on case studies went down somewhat like this – A celebrity, a video, a sponsored post on social media to make the video go viral, and the number of clicks and views on those videos. Any astute, result oriented CMO or jury member would have one question at the end of these case studies – So what? What do clicks and impressions really mean? What stories do they tell about the purchase journeys and intents of consumers?
The fact is that all that clicks and impressions really say is that consumers are engaging with the brand’s messages on one marketing channel as opposed to another. They even work well in the purview of selecting the marketing mix if engagement is the only outcome a brand needs from a campaign. For example, if the campaign objective is to get sign ups for a CSR activity, clicks and impressions make sense. But these campaigns are rare.
In terms of dollars and cents and chances of conversion, clicks and impressions mean very little. In fact, we would go so far as to say that they don’t quantify channel performance at all.
What really quantifies channel performance
In CXO circles, marketing is still a cost center. Having no business outcome makes it a wasted exercise. Especially in the post-recession economic climate, brand storytelling has continued to be important but only if it brings a definite, quantifiable outcome that translates to business in some way.
Channel performance, in summary, needs to stop being a measure of engagement alone. It needs to be the art and science of attributing credit to the channels in the increasingly complex marketing mix that drive business outcomes or at the very least, persuade customers to take actions that mean business.
One such measure of channel performance is a store visit, especially for high value categories and brands with significant offline footprint. For example, car launches across the world happen with a lot of bells and whistles. There are offline roadshows and online ad campaigns, viral videos and promo offers. A user who clicks on the first few online marketing efforts will, by the logic of current retargeting algorithms, continue to see ads and communication about the launch. However, unless consumers make the physical effort to visit a brand showroom or a roadshow, like they did for our multinational automotive client, retargeting efforts might just result in ad wastage.
If you really want to understand channel performance for a marketing campaign, you need to know how specific channels are affecting store footfalls, at the very least. Everything else is just channel engagement.
Clearly, location-based attribution is one of the strongest channel performance metrics for truly data-driven, result-oriented marketers. Are you ready to be one?
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