ANA Finds Metrics, Accountability Work In Progress

Under pressure from top management, the marketing and finance divisions of major advertisers are working together to make marketing operations more accountable, according to a new survey of 128 senior-level marketers by the Association of National Advertisers and Marketing Management Analytics. But this collaboration requires improvisation, as the industry still lacks a common metric for judging return on investment and quantifying marketing's contribution to the bottom line.

The vast majority of companies--some 45%--have some kind of marketing accountability program in place, often located within the marketing department itself, the ANA survey found--an increase of 14% over last year. At the same time, marketers are cooperating more with other departments, and 39% said they were cooperating fully with finance to establish metrics for measuring ROI--an increase of 17% over last year.

However, the actual form of the metrics varies widely. Forty percent of respondents said ROI goals were formulated by the marketing department using internal benchmarks, while almost one-third said the goals reflected broader corporate policies. Within these two groups, 61% of the metrics measured the impact on sales, and 73% of respondents in the two groups said these were helpful in establishing marketing budgets. By contrast, 60% measured consumer attitude--and only 39% of respondents in the two groups found these helpful.



The ANA and MMA agreed that there is still much work to be done. Amazingly, roughly one-third of respondents said there were no written goals of any kind to guide marketing strategy. Doug Brooks, vice president of MMA (Marketing Management Analytics), noted that the metrics currently in use are mostly retrospective: "To truly realize the value of marketing metrics, companies must move beyond backward-looking metrics to forward-looking insights that guide business decisions."

To this end, marketers have been developing a variety of measures, including brand and customer equity models (53%), predictive models for direct response (43%), understanding the offline impact of online advertising (26%) and understanding the impact of experiential marketing (23%).

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