The good news is that a U.S. fiscal default won't compound global macroeconomic concerns. The bad news is that there continues to be weakening sentiment in the U.S. and worldwide, and by at least one independent measure -- an ongoing tracking study by the U.K.'s Data & Marketing Association (DMA) -- it comes at a time when overall marketing effectiveness continues to erode.
In fact, based on the DMA's analysis, which is derived mainly from surveys it conducts among its annual awards entrants, overall marketing effectiveness remains below pre-pandemic levels for the second year in a row.
While that assessment comes from self-reported data, it is a big pool of data -- 1,200 DMA awards entrants over a six-year period -- and DMA Director of Insight Ian Gibbs believes it is stable and directional enough that it reveals a potential minor crisis for the overall effectiveness of marketing -- or at the very least, how it is measured.
"Proving marketing effectiveness has become a complex task," he says citing the increasing complexity, as well as fragmentation of marketing channels.
To help organize those metrics, the DMA released a new CMO Measurement Toolkit and published a companion report advocating some steps that marketers, agencies and the media can apply to get more ground truth around the return on marketing expenditures.
The report recommends focusing on five key actions:
Some of those recommendations may seem like obvious no-brainers, but two of them are especially notable to me, including the DMA's push for brand-building, which is something I think the marketing industry has moved too far away from due to its increasing push for short-term performance KPIs.
The other big takeaway is the fact that many marketers are still relying on loosey-goosey KPIs that are either vestiges of quaint times when they could afford less-than-precise effectiveness measures, or are just something that makes them feel good, like "brand lift." (Has anyone ever seen a brand-lift study in which it went down?).
Most damning of all, in the DMA's most recent analysis, it found that only 8% of all the marketing-measurement KPIs it pooled from marketers in 2022, only 8% were explicitly tied to metrics that have a material impact on their business outcomes.
"The really big factor is sub-standard measurement," Gibbs confided in me during a briefing following the release of the report and the new toolkit.
Specifically, he says the DMA's database includes "180 different metrics that people use to measure advertising effectiveness," but that 92% doing relate explicitly to business outcomes.
In fact, he says 40% of all those metrics relate to "less meaningful" criteria overall.
"The problem," Gibbs concludes, is that marketers "are not speaking the language of their boards."