Commentary

Digital Metrics: Take Results With Healthy Dose Of Skepticism

As marketing evolves, so, too, do the ways in which we analyze, measure and optimize. With a customer journey that is always on and multifunctional across channels and devices, finding ways to accurately report on the impact of marketing is crucial. 

It’s a great feeling when you know you’ve multiplied ROI, or cultivated a $1 cost-per-offline visit to retail location with an average ticket of $20. But marketers and media professionals should always question these results with a healthy dose of skepticism.

One of the benefits of digital media is its ability to track conversions, online and offline. But too often, results are accepted, not challenged. Still, we should be challenging more. Here’s what should be considered:

  • What’s driving that result? Is it the targeting, placements or the creative? More importantly why did we get that result? How do we replicate it across all that we do?
  • Are the results actually accurate? Did it drive overall incrementality? Is there something not being captured? 
  • Did the campaign perform as we expected?

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These questions can be addressed in two ways: upfront during the planning, tracking and implementation or by observing results of tests mid-campaign and pivoting to evolve and build the next stage of the learning plan. 

Regardless of the approach, remaining clear-headed is key.

Marketing pain points like attribution, cross-channel measurement, old data, and transparency aren’t going anywhere. That’s why measurement is so important. But, if all you’re doing is reviewing data and insights without questioning it, you’re selling yourself short. Why?

  • Retargeting can be valuable, but make sure it has a distinct KPI or is driving incrementality. I’ve seen too many campaigns with retargeting combined with prospecting and the media is showing great results – for people who would have purchased anyway.
  • Current user data can be used as a suppression tool to truly see a clean, new audience performance. You don’t need to have a fully functioning data-management platform, you can upload customer lists directly into many platforms. Challenge yourself to think critically about how you’re complying with data usage and learning from the inputs.
  • Completion rates and cost per completion mean nothing if viewability is not a major goal or requirement. Otherwise you are paying for “views” no one saw.  

Ask questions, dig into the reporting and facilitate deep dives that explore the reasons – good or bad – behind the numbers. 

Remember, the data and insights are only one part of the analysis. You must couple that with skepticism, optimism and continued research to truly determine the impact of marketing on your customers.

1 comment about "Digital Metrics: Take Results With Healthy Dose Of Skepticism".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 21, 2019 at 1:48 p.m.

    Very good points, Lauren. All to often we place far too much faith in data without learning what it means. A case in point was the inclination some years back to evaluate TV commercial impact bsed on the proportion of viewers who "liked" the ad. That made it very simple---indeed, too simple. Why? Because, even if "liking" corelated with other metrics----message registration, intent to buy, etc.----it told us nothing about why the viewer liked the commercial. So even if you had a winner---based on liking---you had litle to go on regarding how to fashion your next ad or what to say in it.

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