For as long as there have been marketers, there have been marketers who need to justify their marketing spend. While this is the same for all of us, the differences lay in how we measure that spend, and what we learn from that measurement. For some marketers, it is enough to maintain sales while staying within budget. For others, it’s enough to see incremental growth and a few attributions to explain it.
For the best of us, though, media measurement is about how we can maximize our marketing investment. It isn’t a history lesson designed to justify the spend we have already made. Media spend measurement not only explains historical data; it can accurately predict success and allow you to test and tweak your media mix so that you can put more money towards the most profitable channels.
What’s So Wrong With Status Quo
Habits are not always bad and many marketers have developed and honed excellent habits and strategies over their years of experience. These marketers are succeeding. They’re hitting their numbers; their Executive Team and their Board of Directors are pleased with the company’s growth and sales. Shouldn’t that be enough?
For many marketers, that level of success is more than enough. But there exists a tier of marketer who understands that growth is always possible, than more can always be done, that money can be better spent. These marketers want to understand how adjusting their media spend in small ways can significantly impact sales. They want to understand just how far their marketing dollar goes across each medium they use.
Looking for More
If you want to increase the value of your marketing spend, you need to look beyond your historical data. While historical information should play a large role in planning, that history cannot be simplified by merely executing the same plan as the year before. The status quo may remain – and if you’re good at your job, the status quo is just fine. But for the marketer who seeks to maximize their marketing investment, to tap the value of each medium to its highest potential, you need something more.
Media measurement, the idea of truly understanding the value of your marketing spend, requires a deep understanding of your company, your products, your markets and your customers. As you look for a solution, you need to consider what data the algorithm can manage. Does it consider your competitors and their media spends? Does it consider consumer preference shifts? The algorithm is critical and two will never offer the same results.
The algorithm for Saks Fifth Avenue is wildly different than the algorithm for Old Navy, but so too is the algorithm for Bloomingdales. “Personalization” is critical.
Black Box Solutions
For the mature marketer, a one-size-fits-all solution cannot accurately consider the unique position within which they operate. These “Black Box” algorithms cannot adjust the value of corollary data to suit the needs of a particular industry. You may know from years of experience that Data Point X does not offer relevant insight for your industry.
Companies need not be in different markets or even different market segments for the needs of their measurement algorithm to vary substantially. Without the ability to customize, these black box solutions assume that the date in the “box” is the only driver of decisions. This can, very quickly, lead to projections that are extremely inaccurate, bordering on useless. And because the output is ambiguous, it’s nearly impossible to tune the engine.
A Better Way
Marketers do not spend money within a vacuum. As such, any consideration of that spend must be done within the framework of their business goals, current product offers, the competitive environment, historical spend and changing consumer behaviors. Only then can you accurately understand, predict and model changes in spend.
Personalized media measurement algorithms are complex, individual and constantly evolving. That evolution comes from two factors: the changing dynamics of business goals and the marketplace, and the information that comes as each model is successful or unsuccessful. Even the best, most personalized algorithm will get some things wrong. The strength of the algorithm, and the strength of the marketer for that matter, comes from what they learn from that result.
As marketers, we are obligated to treat our marketing investments with the same care and attention as we would our own personal investments. We have powerful tools available to us to help us understand the past and predict the future. With these tools, we can realize impressive change in our organizations, as long as we are willing to aspire towards reaching higher returns on the investments we make in our marketing.