If there was any doubt that the advertising world has shifted from branding to performance as its chief "KPI," or key performance indicator, it should be laid to rest by an in depth study of marketers of all sizes being released today by the Advertising Research Foundation.
"Sales," not "brand equity," was by far the top KPI among advertisers both big and small, according to the ARF's just-released 2019 "Organizational Benchmark Study."
While more than half of big and small advertisers cited sales as the chief metric they use to evaluate the ROI of their advertising and marketing research, the spread becomes wide between big and small advertisers citing branding metrics such as "equity" and "lift," with smaller advertisers clearly being more performance driven than bigger advertisers.
The finding is interesting going into a recession when past studies have shown that brands that reinvest in building their brand equity -- as opposed to cutting promotional deals -- tend to fare better and grow their market share coming out of them.
To the extent that this type of study can be interpreted as drawing a distinction between "large" and "small" advertisers, it appears that the latter are simply less into the KPI concept. Note the "don't know" answer with 27% of the "small advertiser" respondents admitting that they didn't know compared to only 18% for their "large advertiser" counterparts. Supporting this, the average "large advertiser" respondent cited 2.1 of the 6 metrics while the small fry opted for only 1.7. Yet, both groups rated sales---"performance"---- about the same. As you point out, Joe, it will be interesting to see whether the use of more---or fewer---metrics, aside from sales has predictive values relative to how much advertising each type of advertiser employs during the epidemic. Is keeping things simple better? We shall see.