The events of 2020 have a long tail. As marketers enter 2021 with decreased marketing budgets, ROI is of increasing importance. Analytics and the ability to evaluate performance are key, especially as media mix is evolving. And it’s a great time for marketers to check in with their plans and confirm they are still looking at the right metrics.
There’s no doubt the nature of the pandemic allowed for skewed performance data on digital campaigns. For example, it might look like an email campaign knocked it out the park but really, the increase in online sales can also be attributed to lockdown. The drastic lifestyle changes we all faced in 2020 have to be considered as part of that narrative. In fact, some of our clients who subscribe to our media mix attribution and optimization platform have requested that we isolate the COVID period. From our data we can see the behavioral change by and across media and the rise in baseline demand due to COVID changed those numbers. So to get a clearer look, the COVID-time performance numbers are being considered separately.
And it’s going to be this way for a while. As in-person is slow to make a comeback, it’s likely that marketers will continue to think about segments through lenses like life stage and needs/behavior. There will be audiences that seek to engage more in getting out and having a shopping experience, and there will be those whose needs will be to stay home and continue to utilize online and pick-up services.
As it relates to media, we were already seeing legacy online companies utilizing offline media to drive sales/order. For example, Google sends direct mail to small businesses to engage in their online marketing solutions. And SimpliSafe became the number one by volume security company sending direct mail in 2019, after sending almost none in 2017.
Ultimately, marketers care about sales and orders so they’ll need to determine better ways to engage consumers on a more proactive basis. Companies that figure this out are more likely to win. The move to more digital doesn’t necessarily make media mix easier to manage. You still have brand media versus call-to-action media and each of those two objectives have very different needs, investment, and delivery – and therefore the ROI is different as well.
Not every digital journey is trackable and not every digital journey completes in an online channel. This means measuring media mix cannot be limited to just digital performance. Ultimately, companies will invest in media that provides the best returns by analyzing and optimizing all media investments.
We are already seeing digital ROIs exceed offline media ROIs in some media categories and geographies, which goes to the old investment adage that markets are efficient. Long-term, the same is true for the media investment market. Therefore, while the spotlight might be on digital media due to an unprecedented historic event, it’s important to remember that is not the whole story.