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Me­dia ac­count­abil­ity

They say the proof is in the pud­ding. But when it comes to me­dia, the pud­ding is less likely to get made if the ones putting their money on the line don’t have proof that their in­vest­ment will pay off. And it’s a catch-22 that means mea­sure­ment and ac­count­abil­ity is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

John Wana­maker, the Amer­i­can re­tail guru and mar­ket­ing pi­o­neer, is cred­ited with sum­ming up the mar­ket­ing co­nun­drum one hun­dred-odd years ago. “Half the money I spend on ad­ver­tis­ing is wasted; the trou­ble is I don’t know which half.” That think­ing lasted over much of the last cen­tury, but these days mar­ket­ing de­part­ments, agen­cies and me­dia own­ers are all un­der pres­sure to show the dol­lars in­vested in them or by them were well spent. And that means ac­count­abil­ity, ef­fi­ciency and, yes, the dreaded re­turn on in­vest­ment.

A cam­paign may have a num­ber of de­sired out­comes, and not all of those in­tended to have a di­rect im­pact on the bot­tom line. So ROI is only one mea­sure­ment to take into ac­count. Equally as im­por­tant are qual­i­ta­tive mea­sure­ments on en­gage­ment, such as time spent in­ter­act­ing, whether view­ing, read­ing, lis­ten­ing or oth­er­wise.

Tak­ing stock of these met­rics— qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive—isn’t al­ways clear cut, nor is it con­sis­tent across medi­ums. But that’s less a bug and more a fea­ture of the dif­fer­ences be­tween the me­dia them­selves. Dig­i­tal has it easy in this re­spect. In­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated soft­ware can track moun­tains of de­mo­graphic, lo­ca­tional and be­havioural data to show click-throughs, con­ver­sions, time-spent view­ing, and the like.

Mea­sure­ment of tra­di­tional medi­ums can be a bit more of a puz­zle. The Nielsens and Col­mar Brun­tons of the world ob­vi­ously help, mea­sur­ing reach, en­gage­ment and a host of other data across chan­nels so mar­keters can com­pare ap­ples to ap­ples. Be­yond this, me­dia own­ers are mak­ing the effort to com­mis­sion their own re­search and es­tab­lish bench­marks, as seen with the likes of TVNZ and New Zealand Post.

But no me­dia is an is­land, and own­ers are find­ing com­bi­na­tions of chan­nels of­ten add up to added value. Dig­i­tal in par­tic­u­lar is be­ing recog­nised not only in terms of the ad­di­tive prop­er­ties it can have in terms of reach and en­gage­ment of cam­paigns, but also in terms of abil­ity to mea­sure im­pact. One of the case stud­ies in the fol­low­ing pages shows how GPS data was used to track en­gage­ment with an out-of-home in­stal­la­tion in shop­ping cen­tres, while an­other shows how ra­dio uses so­cial me­dia to en­hance its en­gage­ment and mea­sure­ment.

While it’s still im­pos­si­ble to cap­ture cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tion along ev­ery touch­point with a brand, the tools and met­rics that are in place can still re­veal a lot of in­for­ma­tion about the suc­cess of any cam­paign. What’s clear, though, across any medium, is that it’s im­por­tant to know at the out­set what a cam­paign is ex­pected to achieve. With that in­for­ma­tion in hand, it will be a lot eas­ier to de­ter­mine which me­dia—or the com­bi­na­tion thereof—can best meet and mea­sure those ex­pec­ta­tions and their out­comes.

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