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.