Marketers, Get Serious About Accountability-AdAge

Advertising Age              
Published September 8, 2008
By: Bob Liodice

Marketers, Get Serious About Accountability

Rex Briggs' and Greg Stuart's arguably instant classic, "What Sticks," predicts that 47% of advertising campaigns are destined to fail. That estimate closely matches famous retailer John Wanamaker's legendary words, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." These condemning comments -- separated by 80 years -- illustrate the continuing sad state of marketing accountability.

The marketing-accountability revolution must continue. In today's demanding business environment, companies must know the impact of their marketing investments. The Association of National Advertisers has launched a major initiative to significantly elevate the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing programs by codifying the best accountability practices. Our insights are being drawn from member case studies as well as from ongoing ANA surveys of senior-level marketers, which have been conducted since 2004.


Marketers must ensure that clear, measurable goals are set and understood by all functions. Unfortunately, ANA found that only about one-third of marketers felt that marketing's goals were closely aligned with corporate goals. Another one-third reported that there were no written goals at all. Speaking at the ANA Marketing Accountability conference in July, Jeffrey Marshall, editor of Financial Executive magazine, noted that in many cases marketing goals have insufficient rigor by financial standards.


Overall, 23% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the accountability metrics available to them today. That will change as the digital-media tsunami sweeps across the marketing landscape. The soft metrics of yesterday are being replaced by precise performance indicators that help marketers track -- in real time -- how consumers interact with their campaigns and media. Wachovia is an excellent example of a company that created uniform metrics based on a partnership among marketing, finance and a corporate analytics function.

But there is considerable inconsistency in the approaches and methodologies vendors are using to capture and report data. The industry needs an ever-improving effort across the digital landscape to adopt standardized, accurate and transparent measurement protocols.

There is an urgent need for marketers to push the accountability frontier. By appointing an accountability champion, by creating and strengthening partnerships with finance and other analytics functions and by advocating for needed measurement quality and transparency standards, marketers will be increasingly effective in improving the productivity of their marketing supply chain and driving brand and business growth.