The digital marketing industry has insidiously trained itself to believe in marketing stories painted through the lens of proxy metrics. To a degree this is no different than any other medium, writes Jason Heller for MediaPost.On the other hand, our digital world is rife with metrics and reports and it’s easy to be overwhelmed and miss the forest for the trees.
You can wallpaper your entire office with some online advertising reports. Impressions, reach, frequency, clicks, engagement, brand measures — and for direct marketers, even conversions and revenue — don’t tell the story of how an investment performed against actual business objectives.
What Really Matters
What a business needs to understand is how digital investments impact the marketplace – in other words, the marginal contribution to the business. This is true for brand marketers as well as direct marketers of every flavor, ecommerce or otherwise. Of course, for direct marketers the linear and closed loop nature of the beast makes it far easier to measure the actual contribution to the bottom line. For brand marketers looking to move a multichannel marketplace, it’s a more complex and multi-staged measurement that includes correlating proxy metrics to shifts in their market.
Marketers, Time to Claim Responsibility
Large marketers and agencies have been trying to nail econometric media mix modeling for years. It’s not a perfect science. It’s often logistically challenging and expensive. Many clients opt to wing it, even with spends in the tens of millions of dollars.
However, all marketing service professionals and client-side marketing departments should be cognizant of the underlying business objectives and be proactive about developing ways to get as close to the measurement of marketplace impact as possible. This takes creative thinking, a financial investment, and an executive-level commitment beyond the intersection of “We know that we need to invest in digital” and “some of these metrics look good even if I don’t understand what they mean for the business.” Truth be told, often people are just too busy to take the time to dig deeper.
Agencies, Drive Us Forward, Please
Very rarely does an agency proactively take the time to develop ways to bridge proxy metrics to actual business results, particularly if this is not being asked of them. We all need to develop a historic benchmarking and econometric modeling mindset. Make a commitment to research, analytics and modeling in an effort to truly measure impact. We preach the unique attributes of the medium — targetability, relevancy, engagement, accountability — but often miss the bigger picture in the process. These are of course powerful and valuable attributes.
But let’s face it: Digital media has been in a decade-long chicken and egg situation. It’s difficult to measure the marketplace impact of a small percentage of media allocation, and marketers won’t increase digital budgets significantly until the marketplace impact can be measured, even directionally.
Most brand marketers rely on their agencies for the strategic framework surrounding the allocation, management, and measurement of their digital investments. If agencies don’t explore creative approaches to working more closely with the clients, measurement programs will never move past their current state of stasis in the proxy metric ghetto.
Take the First Step
So the next time you look at your online advertising reports, ask yourself, how can I begin to bridge the gap between these proxy metrics and my business objectives? It’s never too late to start the process, and it won’t happen overnight.
What challenges are you facing justifying your digital investments to upper management? Have you made inroads in measuring the overall impact of digital investments on your business?
This article was republished by kind permission of www.mediapost.com //www.mediapost.com
Jason Heller is CEO of AGILITI, a consulting firm focused solely on client-side digital marketing operations management, helping clients foster productive relationships with their agencies and empowering clients to take control of their digital strategy. Follow him at @JasonHeller
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