Digital Advertising Metrics: 3 Fundamentals For CMOs

If you’re a CMO and you can’t explain your digital advertising metrics strategy in a paragraph or less, you’re in trouble.

In the early "wild west" days of digital, metrics and measurement were sketchy at best, and going with your gut was not at all unusual.  But gone are the days of guessing … of planning a campaign based on assumptions and hoping it will achieve your marketing goals.  

It is to provide clear, actionable results to justify the dollars you are spending, especially in the still relatively uncharted and fast-changing waters of digital media.  There are three hard and fast rules every CMO or marketer should be following when considering digital advertising.

1. Establish Solid Goals
Are you building or supporting a brand? Driving traffic to a Web site?  Working on customer conversion?
Pick one objective and stick to it.  Defining your objective at the outset will help benchmark performance later. Introducing a product, for example, is a goal.  Squeezing the most product sales out of a media buy is also a goal, but it is a different goal. 

The metrics that define your success in reaching them also must be different. Performance measurement naturally depends on observing the metrics at the end.  But don't forget to look at the metrics at the start. so you have the correct apples-to-apples reference point for your back-end metrics.

2. Measure The Right Metrics
Identify the correct Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for the goals you've set.  If you use the wrong metrics to measure success, you could see numbers that have little relation to achieving your desired goals, meaning you've lost both precious time and dollars.

If, for example, you have a media buy that is strategically planned to support a broad brand awareness goal, you need to be looking at the right metrics. In today’s Web-based world, everyone is obsessed with clicks. They serve as a metric of response, not branding.

Branding metrics, on the other hand, are all about impression counts, interaction rates, frequency data, and placement performance. Before you reach any conclusions about the impact of your message outreach, be sure you’re measuring the right metrics.

When establishing the metrics you'll be using, remember how quickly technology is moving.  Be careful that the metrics you establish today will still be relevant six months from now.  

3. Measure Twice, Decide Once
Trying to obtain a solid performance sample? Don’t measure five times a day and change your campaign each time. Conversely, don’t wait until the campaign has been fully implemented before you begin the measuring process. Quantitative and qualitative research, supplemented with a solid metrics package reporting on your online buy, will provide all the data you need to make educated optimizing decisions throughout your branding campaign.

If you list your goals, then find the KPIs that report on those goals, you’ll be much better positioned to make the periodic, informed decisions necessary to optimize all of your campaign elements. But beware! Data is data. Don’t let it make the final decisions for you. Data, of course, needs to be factored into the overall decision-making process, but there is no substitute for expertise and experience, or your gut. Or a really savvy agency partner.

1 comment about "Digital Advertising Metrics: 3 Fundamentals For CMOs".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, October 29, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.

    Interesting that you take twelve paragraphs to explain to folks why if "you can’t explain your digital advertising metrics strategy in a paragraph or less, you’re in trouble."

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