Shifting Digital Accountability to Brand Marketers


Growing up, when I was pestering my parents about something that I just really, really had to have (like a real, live pet monkey), they would often say:

“Be careful what you ask for; you might just get it.”

Brand Marketers have been asking for lots more from digital—but have largely been unmoved by the response, and their anemic spending shows it.

Shifting Digital Accountability to Brand Marketers

Shifting Digital Accountability to Brand Marketers

They ARE shifting more money into digital, particularly as on-line video, mobile and social explode.  But their digital spending has lagged their direct marketing counterparts, as they continue to look for more evidence of the efficacy of digital advertising.

The accountability debate is shifting quickly though, from digital publishers and measurement companies to the Brand Marketers themselves.

What do Brand Marketers Need?

1.  Audience Delivery – Much has been written recently about the issues and opportunities associated with digital audience delivery. Any reader of the advertising and media press knows that large numbers of digital ads are not delivered to their intended audience, and many aren’t even viewable—a real embarrassment to many who prided digital on its precise targeting.

But the fact that we are even talking (or writing about) this topic says a lot about how to solve the problem. We can now measure how well, or how poorly, individual sites perform in delivering digital advertising to their intended audience—on a daily basis. And, with metrics that are common across platforms—e.g. reach, frequency, GRP’s against key demographic targets, Brand Marketers can now much better understand the relative performance of different media.

2.  Brand Impact – Brand Marketers care not just about sales, but about their brand or, more specifically, brand equity. They want to know that digital advertising has equal or more brand building impact than the alternative mediums.

Digital brand building metrics have now equaled and, in some cases, surpassed metrics from other mediums. Brands can not only measure increases in awareness, brand recall and other traditional ad effectiveness metrics, but can now also link ad exposure directly to traditional brand equity metrics. Given these tools, Brand Marketers should be confident that they can really understand the impact of digital advertising on their brand KPI’s.

3.  Sales Impact – Not surprisingly, while Brand Marketers want to see that digital advertising builds their brand, they also want to know that their brand building efforts result in sales. There are multiple approaches available for measuring the sales impact of digital advertising.

Traditional Market Mix Modeling (MMM) is one, and it’s particularly effective at giving brand builders a relative understanding of how digital advertising compares to other traditional mediums such as TV and Print. That is, for every $1 invested in digital, what on or off-line sales return do I get and how does that compare to other media?

A newer approach for Brand Marketers is Attribution Modeling, which models individuals’ exposure to different digital touch-points against sales. Ironically, attribution modeling was first advocated by direct marketers who were trying to understand the contribution of different digital exposures to search based click-thru.

The advantage of attribution modeling is that it can typically measure more granular digital activities than MMM and the impact of cross-platform exposure on sales—e.g. it can “attribute” impact to different touch-points and combinations thereof.

In either case, there really is no excuse now for not understanding the sales impact of your digital advertising—ROI measurement in digital is very good–even for brand based advertising.

4.  Real Time Optimization – One of Marketers biggest frustrations across all media has been their inability to quickly understand advertising and media performance, and then make improvements in-flight.

Digital, in theory, should be great at this, and in fact has made great strides with real-time bidding (RTB). RTB uses real time performance metrics (click thru, etc.) by site, placement, etc. to understand how to bid and re-allocate spend to the best performing placements just as its name implies—in real time. But again, these gains have mostly been in the direct response world, leaving brand marketers to wonder about what could have been.

Well, direct marketing to the rescue. Real time optimization is now the domain of the Brand Marketer. Brands can now select a few key brand metrics, measure impact continuously across creative units, sites, exposure frequency, and audience, and optimize in real time to improve results.

Optimization can be done manually by the Agency, or via demand side platforms. Some progressive agencies have even take this further by collaborating with publishers on real time optimization to deliver much stronger brand results.

Shifting Accountability to Brand Marketers

Brand Marketers used to have a real issue with digital—accountability. “What does it do for my brand ? How does it impact my sales?” Fair questions that, frankly, weren’t being answered very well until recently. Hence, the slower adoption of digital by the brand focused Marketing community.

The accountability debate has shifted—to Brand Marketers. There really is no reason, at least no measurement reason, that Brand Marketers shouldn’t be playing in digital—in a big way. Now Brand Marketers need to be accountable for measuring, understanding and improving the impact of their digital advertising.

And, let’s hope they fare better than I did with my monkey request. Because while my pet monkey was a lot of fun (and a blast at show and tell), I also spent an awful lot of time cleaning up his messes—at meal time and otherwise !

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