The Future of Media Is About Business Outcomes -- Not Media Outputs

  • by , Featured Contributor, October 9, 2014
All across the media business, folks are trying to figure out how to measure, value and synchronize media delivery across an ever-expanding multitude of platforms and devices. It’s a daunting task for any marketer.

As complex as the media delivery system has become, the determination of its real value is not complicated. The overarching measurement principle that should drive the future of media is a lot simpler and more straightforward. It was summed up for me succinctly over breakfast recently with media legend Charlie Rutman, executive vice president and managing partner at Horizon Media: "The future of media will be about delivering business outcomes, not media outputs." From Rutman’s perspective, “Media delivery measurements are fine, but only if they produce business results.” He should know a lot about this. Prior to his time at Horizon, he served as the CEO of MPG, and before that was the president of Carat USA.

Our industry could spend its time trying to wrangle the collection and valuation of a massive number of different media output metrics -- like making sense of TV GRPs and print pages in the face of banner impressions, search queries, social likes and tweets. Or we can shift our energies from the media outputs, which are proxies, to their provable contributions to clients’ business outcomes.  In fact, we as an industry must focus on the business outcomes sought by marketers, whether it is the generation of leads, driving traffic to stores, or sales of products. Here are some reasons why:



Outcomes are channel-agnostic (and usually interfaith). Media delivery metrics are by definition unique to each and every media channels. Outcomes aren’t. Leads generated are leads generated. Sales are sales.

Outcomes are the only metrics that truly matter to the marketer (and their bosses and owners). CEOs and shareholders aren’t kept up at night by low impression counts or bad viewability. But bad sales are bad for sleep -- and bonuses.

Outcomes shift power to marketers and media owners. In a media world defined by delivering provable business outcomes, the role of marketers and media owners as active participants in media transactions becomes more pronounced. Intermediate metrics like GRPs and total impressions don’t matter much when ultimate metrics like cost per sale are in the mix.

This world demands extraordinary transparency between the media owner delivering customers and proving the financial value of a plan, and the marketer deciding to buy it. Fraud and hidden fees based on media volume don’t have a place here.

Time to shift our focus away from delivering media outputs to delivering business outcomes? What do you think?

5 comments about "The Future of Media Is About Business Outcomes -- Not Media Outputs".
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  1. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel, October 9, 2014 at 1:08 p.m.

    Dave, this really sums it up for me: "Outcomes are channel-agnostic (and usually interfaith). Media delivery metrics are by definition unique to each and every media channel. Outcomes aren’t. Leads generated are leads generated. Sales are sales."
    This pinpoints the, IMHO, always-misguided attempt to provide hard ROI for Social Media Marketing campaigns: The metrics appropriate for those are indeed specific to the media themselves, and they are never likely to be direct leads and sales. What they are likely to be are indeed such soft stuff such as likes, retweets, search queries, and web traffic -- the latter of which in particular can (should) start you talking about leads and sales! In a nutshell, the business outcomes you're looking for may never sow up directly -- but only indirectly and circuitously -- from certain media outputs.

  2. Mark Silva from KITE, October 9, 2014 at 1:37 p.m.

    Yes. Yes. Yes. And, Yes. At a time when we still see "TVC" strategy briefs--as in TV Commercial--media briefs and creative briefs agencies must define their charter more broadly to quarterback how they will solve their client's hairiest problems. Solving enterprise/business problems will reveal true strategic leadership, which is really the recipe for relationships that span decades. Strategy is about the sustainable competitive advantage and media must play a part in addressing the longevity and core business it serves. Thanks for the smart synthesis, Dave. In your opinion, what agencies are doing this best?

  3. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia, October 9, 2014 at 7:32 p.m.

    Ken, my belief is that we will see outcome based media measurements first on those channels that proveably drive them with scale, predictability and speed. Thus, channels like search, TV, radio, online display, digital video and FSI's for categories like retail, financial services, QSR and e-commerce will be measured and managed that way earliest. Subtle, soft metrics like "likes" and "tweets" will have to prove their way if they want to get significant budget allocations. Data collection and data science has reached a point that we can now determine whether those techniques truly drive short and mid-term sales effects. In the world of business outcomes, if it can't delivered measurable outcomes, it won't get measurable budget spend.

  4. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia, October 9, 2014 at 7:40 p.m.

    Mark, I'm not sure at this point as to exactly which agencies are best at this, but I do know that we're seeing a lot of movement by the larger agency groups like Horizon, Carat, Group M, SMG, Zenith Optimedia and Havas to make this a key part of their strategies. I also think that some of the best work on the ground is being done by mid-size regional agencies and independents like Carmichael Lynch, Cripsin Porter, OLSON, Haworth and Media Storm. Also, digital shops, from bigger players like Digitas and 360i to smaller players like True North and Mediasmith have done some great work in this area.

  5. Mike Kelly from WideOrbit, October 13, 2014 at 1:23 p.m.

    We sell client solutions which result in increases in sales. Right on the mark.

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