Cross-media measurement is a challenge for marketing agencies of all sizes, but for small agencies the problems are especially acute. Organizations like Nielsen, ANA, ComScore, and others are developing game-changing measurement tools and systems, but they’re not available just yet. In the meantime, we are left to make sound decisions based on the most reliable data available to rationalize budgets and estimate true ROI for our clients.
It's easy to imagine how measuring the effectiveness of various media types, each with unique metrics — social media, TV, print, radio, digital streaming, etc. — can make for an increasingly complex campaign. Without the resources to invest in costly measurement tools, small agencies must be thoughtful, discerning, and work with the right partners.
Here are three tips for small agencies to consider when addressing the complex challenge of cross-media measurement.
Tackle Fragmentation of Media Channels with a Strong Foundation
Sounds obvious, right? But all too often, the success of a campaign, or lack thereof, comes down to how clear, specific, and realistic your objectives were from the outset. Advertisers know that channel fragmentation presents the campaign setup, run, and subsequent measurement with unique challenges. Use your objective as the north star to which your final channel mix ladders up.
Since budgets are seldom what you want, or need them to be, layer each channel only after your allocations prove effective enough in the first round of selections. Media campaigns should employ multiple channels, but selecting the right channels is crucial to balance the budget, mitigate measurement complexity, and deliver on your KPIs. Oh yeah, and never forget to factor in frequency. Do you have enough money to have enough frequency on all channels?
Pro Tip--Shorten the campaign duration to accommodate a fixed budget. It’s better to call the campaign a test and get projectable learnings!
Cross-Media Measurement Takes a Village — Find the Right Partner
Media partners should be able to profile your target audience universe. Period. If a media firm can’t provide you with a universe of the audience by channel, move on. Don't be sold by the shiny promise of tons of impressions. Without context, this means very little. You need more information from your media seller than X number of guaranteed impressions per dollar spent. What does that mean in the larger scheme of things? Who are you reaching? How many times? How long is it running? Most media partners have access to tools and can size the target audience, so be sure to ask them to run third-party research for you. Be transparent--give them your objectives and KPIs. This does not mean they need to know your total budget. You must understand the reach and frequency of your audience universe to gain traction.
Pro Tip--Your media buying agency should track and report delivery to ensure your campaign reaches the intended audience with valid impressions and proper frequency.
Interpreting the Data — Be Prepared to Pivot
Say it with me: Monitor, report, refine, monitor, report refine. Be clear from the outset about how and what is being measured in each channel independently and how that should translate to the overall campaign goals. Everyone needs to be on the same page with open lines of communication.
When optimizing, analyze the click-through rate and the number of impressions served. For example: If your click-through rate started high but is now waning, it could mean the audience is losing interest, and you might consider employing a frequency cap. In contrast, if you've served most of your impressions, and your click-through rate is still high, the audience has continued interest, and you're not overreaching. If, on the other hand, you find a low click-through rate across all channels, then perhaps you should consider reworking the creative. But, if the click-through rate is high in one channel and not another, evaluate your media buy.
When interpreting multi-media data, you should consider the time of day your ads are running and always prioritize being native and authentic to audience behavior, mindset and relevancy — aim to engage, not disrupt. Aside from directing campaign adjustments, regular auditing and monitoring of measurement data can also help to identify and correct any sources of bias or fraud.
Pro Tip--Unless required, avoid signing long-term contracts. You might exhaust the offerings of your current media partner and need alternate channels or new media properties to expand your reach.
For now, accurate and actionable cross-media measurement remains a complex team sport for small agency media marketers. Providing clients with the most accurate, honest, and productive recommendations requires us to ask the right questions and keep the campaign and overall brand goals top-of-mind. Industry disruptors are always around the corner — sometimes making our jobs easier, sometimes not so much. But, regardless of what the market has in store, nothing will replace good planning, diligent monitoring, and savvy, honest people.