Getting beyond weak lift metrics: A better deal for brand marketers

By Manu Mathew, Co-founder & CEO, Visual IQ

Tension is brewing in the marketing ranks. Erin, a direct response marketer, and Bruce, a brand marketer, both work on the same floor of Fabulous X and manage a similar budget. But until now their results have been anything but the same. While Erin can use advanced attribution to divine which channels, campaigns, and tactics are producing conversions, revenue, and ROI, Bruce’s brand awareness campaigns are judged on squishier brand lift “metrics.”

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Indeed, the brand marketer’s road is tough: A recent study reports that 80 percent of marketers say measuring the impact of branding efforts is more challenging than measuring that of direct response. Nearly the same number say they face challenges in isolating and quantifying the impact of individual digital channels on brand metrics.*

But that’s not because measuring branding efforts is inherently more difficult. It’s because direct response marketing measurement benefits from advanced attribution technology to deliver better, faster marketing decisions and more comprehensive reporting.

So what would happen if we applied advanced attribution methodologies to the brand campaign world? Let’s go back to the marketing floor at Fabulous X. Bruce is running a brand engagement campaign targeted to potential customers who are not yet ready to convert. Like many brand marketers, Bruce has created different ways for his prospects to engage with his brand – including interactive rich media ads, onsite videos, webinars, and product galleries. While each of these different brand engagement activities is important to him, he considers some to be more valuable than others.

For example, a webinar registration is five times more valuable to him than a rich media ad interaction, since he is able to collect additional information about a prospect. He’ll want to assign a value to webinar registrations as well as to every other type of brand engagement activity based on its relative importance. He’ll also want to make sure those values are accounted for when he uses advanced attribution to inform his optimization decisions.

But Bruce can’t possibly optimize each and every brand engagement activity individually. He needs a single key performance indicator (KPI) metric that includes all of these activities and their associated weights. So he uses an engagement score as his primary KPI for branding measurement and optimization. With the application of advanced attribution methodologies the credit for each brand engagement activity and its weight value is fractionally attributed to the marketing touch points that helped to drive that engagement. This process is repeated for every prospect exposed to his campaign, ultimately producing a consolidated, attribution-informed engagement score for every channel, placement, and creative in his campaign.

From there, Bruce can determine which tactics are truly producing the highest engagement scores and therefore having the greatest impact. Now he can optimize his budget across and within channels to increase brand engagement. This is where the methodology moves beyond the squishy “brand lift” metrics Bruce has been using. Whereas traditional brand lift metrics gauge qualitative consumer perceptions, an engagement score that is based on daily, user-level brand engagement activities and informed by advanced attribution will give Bruce the robust data he needs to optimize his campaigns at a very granular level and on a much more frequent basis.

Now he can finally keep up with Erin when it comes to showing off successful optimization strategies to the CMO. And the CMO is happy because his team is using advanced attribution throughout the entire marketing funnel to maximize his budget from top to bottom.

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Fortunately, some of the best minds in advanced marketing attribution technology are working on making this happen now. So now is the time for marketers to begin talking to their current or prospective attribution providers about leveraging these capabilities. When marketers like Bruce and Erin rely on advanced attribution to gain a more complete view of their marketing performance, both they and their companies will reap the benefits.

*Visual IQ – September, 2015 – Branding Measurement in Today’s Accountable World

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