Why Marketing Metrics Continue To Fail

The Failure of Today's Metrics

While we have been able to decode DNA, send a man to the moon and unlock nuclear power, we have somehow failed to develop metrics that help marketers understand the impact of their marketing spend across channels. In some ways, we even appear to be moving backward. Nielsen and comScore recently partnered with Facebook, but rather than create a new metric that captured the uniqueness of new media like social media, they opted to simply adapt one of marketing's oldest metrics, Gross Rating Points (GRPs) to Facebook. The problem with GRPs is it simply measures reach and frequency.

Media buys and marketing spend continue to be dictated by measures of eyeballs like GRPs, reach, and impressions, which fail to capture the quality of each. Clearly, the value of walking by and briefly glimpsing a billboard is very different than spending two hours at a branded event with friends learning about a product, yet both of these activities are viewed the same by these core metrics used by marketers.



Newer attempts at metrics like engagements, conversations, likes, and tweets also fall flat. The problem with all of these metrics is they are not universal -- they still focus purely on raw inputs and they fail to factor the quality of each marketing channel in actually impacting customers. The key to truly understanding marketing spend is a metric that can be used in any media channel, across any marketing activity -- capturing not just the number and frequency of eyeballs, but the level to which a consumer is engaged and impacted.

A New Metric for a Socially Connected World

Having worked in word-of-mouth and social media marketing for the past five+ years (yes, even before I was allowed an account on Facebook), I've seen the continual frustration that has plagued marketers as they try to understand how to justify marketing spend outside of traditional media to their bosses. It's even more frustrating post-campaign, when they qualitatively know they have been hugely successful, but again lack the ammo to convince the higher-ups to increase spend. For marketing to progress to where people are and where they get the information that truly shapes their purchasing decisions, it is clear that something needs to change.

Over a year ago I decided to try to shift thinking and create a metric that would help marketers evaluate their marketing spend, in what is now a vastly different climate than a century ago or even five years ago. I partnered with Joanna Seddon, the former CEO of Millward Brown's consulting practice and one of the leading authorities on marketing measurement, to create a metric that would allow marketers to measure marketing across any channel or activity

The result is a brand influence metric that goes beyond measuring pure quantitative inputs but attaches the quality factor or impact of the marketing campaign. By knowing not just the eyeballs but also the marketing impact, a marketer can now make decisions that truly reflect not only breadth, but depth and effectiveness.

How It Works

Based on this year-long research project, the key factors that determine how consumers are impacted by media were identified, and the brand influence metric was developed. While reach remains a key determinant, it is now paired with two key quality metrics -- proximity and intensity -- as well as exposure, or the time a consumer is engaged with the brand. The brand influence metric formula is:

Intensity x Proximity x Exposure x Reach = Influence

Proximity factors in both how trusted and relevant a consumer finds the source of the information. For instance, not surprisingly, a message coming from a friend or family member is typically both more trusted and more relevant to a consumer than a 30-second spot they watch on TV. Intensity factors both the enjoyment and memorability that consumers typically have with a particular marketing channel or activity.

Through surveying of the general population, scores were attributed to each marketing channel, as well as a variety of social marketing activities to determine how trusted, relevant, enjoyable and memorable consumers find each source. Those scores created proximity and intensity values for each traditional media channel and many other common marketing activities. Combining those with the time a consumer spends with the marketing message, as well as the campaign's reach, gives a marketer the number of Brand Influence "points" achieved that provide a complete picture on the marketing impact of their buy.

What Can It Mean to the Future of Marketing?

As marketing continues to increase in complexity and fragmentation, the ways in which marketers will need to reach consumers will continue to expand. Technology and connectivity have created both enormous opportunities and challenges for marketers in the coming years.

To meet these challenges, marketers will need metrics (or a metric) that help them equate vastly different marketing campaigns. This brand influence metric breaks the nearly century-long hold that TV-driven metrics have held over marketing, and allows marketers to utilize the creativity and diversity of marketing activities needed to succeed in today's vastly different environment.


2 comments about "Why Marketing Metrics Continue To Fail ".
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  1. Bill Mcdonald from None, September 2, 2011 at 2:41 p.m.

    Notice that not once, not even once, does Mr. Evans mention SALES, REVENUE, or INCREMENTAL PROFIT that might occur as a result of ad/promo placement in social media. These are the only things that matter to CFOs in their judgment of effectiveness of marketing expenditures.

    Thus, his newfangled "marketing metric" is just another soft (read: non ROI) measure, to follow in the pantheon of such soft measures which CFOs and CEOs laugh at (or cringe at, or ignore, if you prefer).

    Another wasted effort.

  2. Katie Paine from Paine Publishing, September 3, 2011 at 7:56 a.m.

    Brandon, it sounds like you should join our social media measuremetn standards conclave October 25 in NH. This is great stuff, but I want to put it into context in terms of what everyone else is doing.

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