State of the Industry
Media buying used to be a much simpler process. Companies took their ad to the newspaper and it was printed. But as technology progressed, so, too, did media buying opportunities. Today the complex process includes print, television, outdoor, and digital media to get the right message to the right audience at the right time.
The new paradigm of media buying offers many opportunities to companies who know how to effectively deliver their messages. While that goal is easy to determine, the path to achieving that goal requires a nuanced approach.
Typically, this includes judging each channel individually, basing success on metrics such as impressions, and measuring engagement at the end of the funnel.
However, there are some challenges with these methods of measurement, and successful marketing leaders are finding alternate ways to enhance media buying so it works more effectively.
Challenges & Imperfections
Measuring how well-bought media performs not only tells you whether the dollars you are sinking into advertising is worth it but if done right, it can also tell you where to allocate those dollars. The system, however, is far from perfect.
The problem with impressions
The general consensus is that measuring impressions will give you an idea of how effective an ad is. The more impressions you get, the better the opportunities for engagements that equal an active interest in your product or service.
The problem with this ideal is that it is not accurate. It is based on hope—on the idea that the more people that see the ad, the better the chances of capturing a customer. As a hypothetical metric goes, it can be useful to a point, but the inaccuracy of numbers could inflate the success of the ad.
As AdAge says, with impressions, “Measurable activity is virtually endless, and yet, for the most part, we don't even begin to maximize the potential.”
A recent story from The New York Times discussed Amazon’s partnership with Realogy, a real estate brokerage. With 4 million subscribers, this story, which Amazon hopes will help them catch a piece of the real estate market, has already hit many inboxes. Then the newspaper tweeted the story to their 43.8 million followers. This puts the impressions at just under 50 million (without considering other media outlets where this story is shared). However, only 130 people liked the story, 35 retweeted it, and 17 commented. This doesn’t even come close to a 1% engagement rate which begs the question—was the outcome worth it for this service? What was the true impact?
Judging channels individually
When you allocate your dollars, do you do so based on the individual performance of a channel? Most likely, the answer is yes. Harvard Business Review suggests that is a mistake. Today’s consumers interact with media across the spectrum.
Consider the importance of Google to consumers. After seeing a television ad, consumers are likely to google a product or service to see pricing, reviews, find the website or where it is sold. During the journey, they may engage with your banner ads, a YouTube video showing how the product works, or other digital marketing meant to lead to the sale.
Operating in silos and measuring metrics in isolation, teams analyze how their individual media buy works, but once combined, the numbers are often inaccurate.
Carvana arrived in Kansas City, Missouri and began an aggressive campaign to attract buyers. Billboards, radio spots, television ads, and more papered the city. In this scenario, let us imagine the consumer first saw the television ad. She then read the news announcement on Facebook. A link in the article led to the Carvana website which she tinkered with but did not make a decision on.
Two weeks later, she views a video on YouTube which begins with a Carvana ad, so she searches on Google for reviews and saw an ad banner which she clicked leading her back to the website. When she finally committed to the purchase, which media buy is rewarded with the win?
Measure engagement along the way
Media buyers need to be able to quantify their media impact to show why that channel is valuable. Metrics determined by the purchase only show a small percentage of the engagement. This leads to marketing teams trying to figure out how to move the needle in their favor even in the tiniest fragment of a percent.
However, all along the funnel, there are consumers who drop off for various reasons, and by focusing only on the end, marketing teams are missing out. Gaining insights into why engagements slowed or suddenly dropped on an ad by measuring along the purchase journey can create new opportunities for reaching those audiences.
Successful Systems Marketing Leaders Use
Successful marketing leaders know that there are better systems to use that promote engagements and drive consumers to purchase.
Measuring with social data
Social data is a key measurement for media planning and buying because it gives deeper insights into the effectiveness of the media buy. It can determine which content performs better, where it is most successful and what placement works the best.
In essence, it quantifies impact so that brands can see where optimizations are needed, and when they are applied, how successful they are.
A study by BCG and Google showed, “cost savings of up to 30% and revenue increases of as much as 20%” for companies that had reached multimoment maturity. Achieving this maturity requires connections across the purchase path, automated processes, value delivered to consumers across their journey, and cross-functional coordination.
Once you’ve delivered the intended message, you wait to see if it works. However, waiting for the impressions to come in, analyzing the media in silos and not pushing toward more understanding during the consumer journey can hinder a marketing plan. For more information on how to measure the success of your media buying plan, read our discussion paper on Business Outcomes & Results: Why all media execution needs to focus on these KPI’s.