Is the pressure for immediate measurement diminishing long-term brand potential?

Although it is often attributed to advertising executives in the 1950s, printed references to the phrase, “Half the money spent on advertising is wasted, but no one knows which half.” appear as early as 1897. Today, if you spend five minutes chatting with a digital media planner, he or she will surely bring up the idea of the ability to measure every click or view and how it has revolutionized the ad game. Theoretically, with the right measurement and analytics tools in place, every campaign could be continually optimized and refined, reaching maximum effectiveness and near-zero-waste. So, why aren’t we all seeing major leaps in returns?

It all boils down to three main issues.

First, most firms use basic analytics that measure impulse, not affinity. Second, in most measurement structures, there’s no allowance for context. And finally, current analytics don’t reflect the lifetime value of a customer. But let’s address each of these, one by one.

Optimizing for impulse, not long-term affinity

The underlying mechanism of optimization is simple: messages that get clicked most often are run more, while messages that get clicked less are removed. On the face of it, the system is completely logical. We all want clicks, right? Well, not solely. We want more clicks, but it’s important that those clicks are the kind that result in a final sale. And further, we want to have insight, over time, as to which of the ads that resulted in clicks and sales also resulted in creating a long-term relationship with a customer—and, hence, an increase in repeated or related sales. And that requires time, patience, and quite frankly, a long-term perspective that current measurement-driven optimization applications do not offer.

No value for context

Current analytics have little room for valuing context (e.g., where a user was or what he or she was doing when an impression took place). While certainly the context regarding individual instances could be inferred through close examination; that is impractical. This means we have no weighting for adjacencies such as whether a message was seen in an environment with relevance to your brand, or better yet, additive in value to customers’ opinions of your brand.

No accounting for lifetime value

The overweighting of the value of clicks or even conversions, as opposed to repeated positive impressions, underweights the value of developing a relationship, awareness, and affinity over time.

In branding, the short way’s the long way.

Great marketing has always been about finding the perfect balance between short-term tactical gains and building long-term brand equity. Today, marketers are facing increasing pressure to show direct returns on every marketing spend. And while we agree that all things can be measured, for some very important things, the time frame in which the proper measurement should be taken is often longer than the budget cycle (and its related dashboards).

So what’s a marketer to do? 

As much as we all depend on and benefit from the latest measurement and analytics tools, unless we leave room in our strategic plans and spaces within our dashboard for building long-term brand affinity, there is a strong chance we will miss opportunities to make future clicks and future sales easier to come by.


Thinking about finding a marketing partner who thinks about short- and long-term success?

Since 1985, Magnani Continuum Marketing has made it easier for organizations selling in highly technical and complex markets to deliver the most effective and seamless traditional and digital brand experiences. We’re more digital than advertising agencies, more strategic than digital marketing shops, and more creative than management consultants. And we’re a heck of a lot easier to work with than almost all of them.

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