Change Metrics To Change Media

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, February 23, 2017

If media is to change in 2017 then the way it’s assessed also needs to change. That means better, more relevant metrics, measures that reflect how media can add value to a brand and drive business success. 

Changing metrics is the foundation stone of the change we expect to see in 2017 and the right measures will provide marketers with a fresh perspective on the true value and power of media for their business. 

For too long the focus of media metrics has been on audit-based tracking of media spend. This is important but it is not the only indicator of success. Auditing has been stuck, simply looking at price benchmarks and making sure that the agency is buying at the price they guaranteed, sometimes years in advance. 

This is just one small aspect of media performance and it is not critically linked to any meaningful business performance, it does not account for the creativity and great ideas that agencies develop every day, nor the service they provide. 



Making sure your media investment is working as hard as possible requires more than just an audit of discounts. The real value of media investment comes from smart thinking, which requires a process that can also hold a client to an account in terms of the quality of their briefing process. 

Clients should spend much more time making sure that planning and strategic thinking is held accountable, not just obsessed about price, clients have to take back some control of accountability. Other areas where metrics are important include the compliance element of the contract – making sure that agencies are fully performing the terms of the contract. 

The simplicity of the audit has convinced too many clients that media is simply a commercial transaction. It’s put the focus on price, discount and buying performance. 

Assessment of true media performance requires a move away from price to a value discussion. Only when clients start looking at media as an investment for business growth will they be able to hold it to account in terms of driving a business outcome.  

Ultimately everyone needs to make a much stronger link between media and business success. That requires a more holistic view on how media dollars are working. 

Where advertisers are not willing to pay for attribution models (easier for brands that work in sectors such as e-commerce than those in CPG) the onus is on the agency to change the conversation to value and away from price. They must find a way to push clients to rethink media, make them more innovative and increasingly link the agency performance to the business outcomes. 

Often the best way to drive such change will be to challenge the remuneration model – a gesture that will help to open up a discussion. That allows both sides to start thinking about KPIs that allow everyone to celebrate shared success.

Making all this work also requires brands and agencies to be able to trust the metrics they select. Unfortunately, that’s become harder in the digital age. 

Digital media promised to make it easier to track media’s influence on business performance but levels of trust in digital metrics has fallen after the revelations about ad fraud, bots and questions over errors in Facebook’s data. 

After five years of heavily investing in digital channels many brands are starting to lose faith. The recent IAB presentation by P&G’s Marc Pritchard demanded a basic level of openness from Google and Facebook, in particular. 

The latter’s response has been encouraging but the whole ecosystem needs to take a similar approach. Ultimately, the digital landscape should be working to help marketers simplify the complexity of digital measurement. 

While it’s good practice to follow the old adage “what gets measured gets done” – we believe marketers should be upgrading this to “what gets paid for gets done first” and think about how they pay for media and incentivise their agencies. 

“Vote with our dollars” as Marc Pritchard said.



2 comments about "Change Metrics To Change Media".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 23, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    I agree with most of what you have to say, Tom. A very good piece and well worth reading. The sad fact remains that despite what they say publically, most advertiser CMOs and higher ups continue to regard media planning and, especially, media buying, as routine numbers chomping exercises---hence CPM-driven "procurement officers". Until that attidude changes---and it is not really evident at this point-----the agencies will continue to staff their media functions as lean and mean operations with an overly heavy relaince on "data" but much less---sadly---on real involvement in the complete marketing process.

  2. Michael Hubbard from Media Two Interactive, February 24, 2017 at 8:22 a.m.

    Sorry - but I just wasn't following the train of thought.  The thoughts seemed to stray from change, to trust, to transparency - which are all true, but again, just not sure what the end all was for this.

    I too believe there needs to be more accountability in media, and more firms willing to dig deep into their own attribution models - but there will never be one metric that is perfect for any one company.  Whatever that metric is (brand, roi or any other kpi), there needs to be a deeper understanding of how creative influences the strategy, how messaging interacts with the audience, how the right price and right place (both traditional and digital) help to build proper reach and frequency.  Yes, I get that people treat media buying as a commodity - but it still amazes me how few people are able to forecast out what their price actually needs to be BEFORE they make a buy.  So maybe to your point on people needing to focus more on value than price - maybe the problem isn't focus, maybe it's experience.  Media Buying experience allows you to know what your negotiating (or bidding) toward, therefore the price becomes the value.

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