From The Top: Slow Going

March 1, 2010

Progress, frustration in marketing measurement

By Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA

Over the past few years, marketers, agencies, consultants, and vendors have really stepped up their game to improve metrics and measurements. The across-the-board gains reflect the industry's focus on moving decision-making from gut judgment and intuition to a stronger basis in facts and numbers. Indeed, the Wild West days of Mad Men are over. Today, the ecosystem is hell-bent on analytical rigor, as exemplified by:

  • Marketing mix metrics. Although far from perfect, they provide increased focus on core marketing components that drive brand building and business performance. As businesses use a wider array of advertising vehicles, such modeled approaches provide greater insight into the effectiveness and the impact of various media, which often can lead to productive real-time marketing changes.
  • Nielsen C-3 television commercial ratings. They're vastly superior to program ratings, improving commercial valuation and giving marketers a better understanding of performance.
  • Digital advertising. This channel provides marketers with more immediate feedback on the effectiveness of media spend and consumer decision-making. With every two steps forward, however, there is often a step back. In fact, there are some real tangible and legitimate issues standing in our way, such as:
  • Lack of uniform measurement for the Web. Nielsen and comScore define digital categories differently, leading to mass confusion about statistics such as "unique visitors" to Web sites. Fortunately, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is taking a leadership position to develop a cross-industry task force to break through the clutter and develop common standards and increase understanding. The ANA plans to join this effort.
  • No common system to rate brand value. Sure, there are companies that value brands, but despite the marketing community's focus on brand building, we still need to make substantial progress to understand the impact of marketing on brand value. We also need a holistic system for comparing brand value metrics across the ecosystem. As brand builders, we do a very poor job at regularly, consistently, and systematically measuring the impact of marketing and demonstrating to CEOs the value of our important work. In this, the "Age of Accountability," there are many continuing shortfalls in the marketing measurement arena. These shortfalls lead to confusion, misinterpretation, and sub-optimized marketing. Clearly, we have a lot more work to do to overcome them. At the ANA, we're committed to doing our part to improve measurements and truly lift the quality of our industry's accountability systems.

"From The Top: Slow Going." Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA. ANA Magazine, March 2010.

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