Why your measurement strategy could be hindering your marketing efforts

Ben Samuel, VP EMEA, Nielsen Marketing Effectiveness, explores the importance of a 360-degree measurement strategy in today’s multi-channel landscape.


There’s no such thing as a typical consumer journey. Thanks to the wide range of available channels, platforms and devices, consumers now have the power to browse and purchase goods both digitally and physically, while switching from online to offline and back again. In fact, research shows 75% of shoppers like to browse products in stores before ordering online.

For marketers, this brings significant potential to reach and engage consumers at scale via multiple addressable and offline touchpoints. But with an increasingly convoluted path to purchase, they must ensure measurement is helping rather than hindering their marketing efforts. After all, failure to do so can cost time, money, and opportunities to drive bottom-line business performance.

To optimise multi-channel campaign success, marketers need to get their measurement strategy right. While there’s no silver bullet for measuring marketing effectiveness, even small improvements can translate into significant outcomes.

The challenges capping performance

Proving the contribution marketing activities make to business revenue is no easy task. 78% of marketers have trouble assessing performance across channels, while 60% lack confidence in their ability to determine the most effective way to allocate their marketing budget. And what makes measurement issues especially difficult to tackle is that they aren’t down to any one cause.

Take, for instance, reliance on antiquated measurement methods such as last touch attribution (LTA). Easy to adopt and extract insight from, LTA is a traditional favourite for assessing digital performance; but it has limitations. By assigning all the conversion credit to the last interaction prior to purchase, LTA is inherently biased and inaccurate. Since it overlooks all other interactions on the path to purchase, it ignores the fluid nature of today’s consumer journeys and the impact of each unique touchpoint. As a result, marketers end up spending more than they should in the wrong channels.

Reliance on old data is another obstacle, especially when it comes to digital effectiveness. Over 50% of digital spend is decisioned in real-time, yet most marketers can’t get data fast enough to support those decisions. This mismatched speed is both imprecise and costly. For example, what if certain display ad creatives or search keywords aren’t working as well as they used to? Decisions based on weeks or even months-old data could mean marketers are wasting spend and missing opportunities to make changes while campaigns are still in-flight.

Finally, the measurement ecosystem as a whole is becoming increasing complex. New regulations are coming in to play, privacy concerns are on the rise, and walled gardens are only getting higher. These factors can create gaps in media coverage measurement that make it difficult to correct past mistakes, capitalise on successes, or take advantage of influential new channels. Amid these many challenges, it’s no surprise that most marketers are simply basing their new budgets on old ones.

Time for measurement to change

Clearly marketers need a measurement overhaul. The rise of digital has changed marketing forever. To achieve the holistic and actionable view of digital performance required to successfully demonstrate marketing impact — and optimise consumer experiences — faster, more granular measurement is essential. Specifically, analytics platforms must provide fresh insight as often as daily, so marketers can see which creative messages, offers and other tactics are resonating with target audience segments, and quickly make adjustments to boost conversions while campaigns are still running.

One approach increasingly gaining traction for answering these demands is multi-touch attribution (MTA). By harnessing household and user-level data from addressable channels, MTA calculates the impact that every element of every touchpoint— including ad creative, offers, placements, and keywords — has on consumer actions. In contrast to LTA, it provides a precise understanding of the role each interaction plays in the path to purchase, so marketers can allocate their budgets effectively and efficiently. Some MTA platforms even refresh and remodel data every day to ensure performance analysis is fast, accurate, and always up-to-date.

Putting MTA to the best use

MTA-driven insight has varied applications. First and foremost, it gives marketers the means to achieve an accurate picture of how specific campaigns impact the business bottom line. Secondly, this insight can be leveraged to enhance results; re-directing spend to high-performing media and matching delivery to individual interests, behaviours, and preferences.

It is, however, worth noting that MTA alone may not be enough for marketers, since not all channels are addressable. While digital spending is on the rise, most brands today still rely on both online and offline channels as part of their overall marketing mix. For strategic planning and budgeting across all investments, marketers must utilise methods such as marketing mix modelling (MMM) alongside MTA.

Leveraging summary level data, MMM measures a wide array of online and offline marketing activities (linear TV, in-store promotions, online display, paid search, etc.), and assesses the effectiveness of spending by channel over and above the baseline of sales that

would have occurred without any marketing efforts. It also controls for external factors that can impact performance, such as weather, economic conditions, and holidays.

By bringing strategic and tactical insights from both methods of analysis together, marketers can get the comprehensive view of performance they need to inform their next best action within and across all channels.

Ineffective measurement processes can only end in one place: sub-optimal marketing performance and wasted spend. If marketers want strategy to drive, not damage performance, it needs be rooted in reliable and comprehensive data-driven measurement. True success lies in the speed, coverage, and comprehensiveness of performance measurement, so marketers can maximise effectiveness and efficiency across their full spectrum of marketing investments.


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