Commentary

Collaboration: Sought But Not Practiced

When we surveyed over 450 agency, brand, and publishing executives about their views on a variety of issues confronting the online advertising industry, one of the topics everyone was most aligned around was the importance of collaboration. In fact, 97% of brand marketers, 98% of agencies, and 98% of publishers agreed that it was important to have all parties involved "... collaborating directly to produce the best possible outcome for the campaign.”

Direct collaboration, however, is far from the norm. What’s the problem? It often starts with the fact that everyone fails to agree on the primary marketing objective for the campaign, or even if they do, they fail to agree on the metric that will be used to measure performance against the objective.

Brands historically have used offline metrics, such as movement in audience awareness, attitude, favorability, consideration, intent or preference. But their agencies or publishers may only report on "new media metrics," such as clickthrough rates, hover time, completion rates and the like, which don't give brands much insight on whether consumers have embraced their brand messages.

Here is that disconnect in black and white. In our survey:

Some 97% of brand marketers say that is important to establish the primary marketing objective for a brand advertising campaign; the metric that will be used to measure performance against that objective, in advance of the campaign. Yet only 18% of agencies and only10% of publishers say they "are able to establish the single, primary marketing objective for a brand advertising campaign with their client, and the metric that will be used to measure performance against that objective, in advance of the campaign all of the time."

Let’s assume everyone involved with the campaign is able to align around these key parameters up front -- does that solve the problem? Put simply, no. While this is an important first step, the next challenge everyone faces is lack of visibility into campaign performance while it is still in-market. In other words, while there is still time to take action if something about the campaign is not performing optimally.

According to our survey:

• 43% of publishers say “More frequent communication with the media agency during the campaign” would help them improve brand advertising campaign results for advertisers

• 60% of publishers say “Understanding how I’m performing on the campaign while the campaign is still in-market” would help them improve brand advertising campaign results for advertisers

• 61% of publishers say “Visibility into my relative performance (as compared to other media plan participants) on the campaign” would encourage them to improve brand advertising campaign results for advertisers.

Fortunately, technology can help us clear this next hurdle, providing a means for all parties involved with the campaign to log into a single system in order to track and collaborate around optimizing brand lift. Jones New York, a major clothing retailer, recently did just this.

By utilizing a collaborative platform to measure and optimize their campaign, they drove a whopping 56% lift in purchase intent for their brand. They did this by working closely with their media partner to identify the best-performing creative executions, then reallocating impressions to these executions.

This increased purchase intent by 19 percentage points from what it had been prior to the optimization. You can see more detail on that particular campaign by clicking here, but suffice it to say I see these types of results regularly with our customers, who take full advantage of the opportunity technology provides for everyone involved with a campaign to collaborate directly to produce the best possible results.

Too often, our businesses are built in silos where folks with specialized knowledge and experience don't have regular contact with others with different expertise. In advertising, the best result is achieved when all of the specialists and experts -- from the brand and the agency to the media owners -- can contribute their insights and opinions. The tools to do that are just arriving.

Let's use them to best effect.

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