How we’re making the leap in measurement by challenging the things the industry gets wrong

David Bielenberg
By David Bielenberg | 25 October 2023

As consumer expenditure falls and CFOs tighten their purse-strings, PHD Melbourne’s Head of Strategy and Planning outlines the need for better measurement practices.

Measurement is a critical component of effective marketing, now more than ever. With marketing budgets increasingly under threat, it helps us secure and protect appropriate investment. Additionally, it ensures we extract maximum value through ongoing optimisation, and to the delight of finance directors, it mitigates against unnecessary or ineffective spending.

But a lot of the time, the industry gets it wrong.

A very quick flick through the trade press, or heaven forbid marketing-Twitter, will uncover a plethora of sensationalist articles and opinion pieces severely lacking in credibility or integrity, which threaten to distract unsuspecting marketers off the course of effectiveness.

That’s why we’re challenging four common mistakes in measurement.

Mistake 1: Short-termism

By now, we’re all very aware of the risk of focus too much on tracking short-term, conversion-based KPIs at the expense of understanding what drives sustained business growth.

To challenge this, marketers need to ensure media and communications objectives are quantifiably aligned and accountable to marketing and business objectives. Additionally, objectives and KPIs should be expressed in measures of effectiveness, not just efficiency.

We’re challenging short-termism by being outcome obsessed. This means setting media objectives that are commercially accountable, and optimising towards KPIs that have the strongest links to business outcomes.

Mistake 2: Misattribution

One of the most frustrating pitfalls in measurement to attributing sales to the final click, while not accounting for organic conversions or other brand touchpoints throughout the consumer journey.

We should seek to measure the incremental impact that media has on consumer behaviour, rather than take credit for sales that would have happened anyway, while also understanding the impact of touchpoints throughout the full consumer journey.

We’re challenging misattribution by being invested in incrementality. This means seeking to measure the actual contribution of the full media ecosystem.

Mistake 3: Bad science

Sampling error, poor replicability, improper representation, and overreliance on claimed data are practices that are rife within the media industry. I recently heard of a brand lift study for a youth brand where the entire research panel were aged over 55, and of another study where the sample size was so small that there wasn’t a single statistically significant finding.

Research sample sizes should always allow for representative, statistically significant results. And where possible, measurement solutions should qualify actual campaign exposure to provide deterministic, de-duplicated, cross-platform data.

We’re challenging bad science by developing measurement solutions that are robust and repeatable. This means adhering to scientific best-practice, and aiming to measure what consumers do, not just what they say they do.

Mistake 4: Retrospection

Measurement solutions that don’t extract actionable insights which can inform and optimise future activity are a constant frustration for planners.

Throughout a campaign, bespoke live dashboards help activation teams monitor campaign performance, reducing reporting time and freeing them up to identify optimisation tactics. Post-campaign, brand and revenue results should be used to create benchmarks for future activity, and where more data is available, it should be integrated with planning systems to optimise strategies and tactics for future activity.

We are challenging retrospection by being future focussed. This means campaign effectiveness data integrates with our planning system, Omni Studio, to ensure a continuous cycle of learning and optimisation.

Putting it into practice

To help us apply these beliefs to our day-to-day work at PHD, we’re launching a suite of frameworks across the agency that help us audit a client’s measurement capabilities, ensure a comprehensive measurement infrastructure, and identify new opportunities to test and learn.

As a business we believe that disproportionate growth comes from the power of imaginative leaps, so it’s critical that we utilise best-practice measurement to ensure that our inspiring work is also commercially accountable.

David Bielenberg is the Head of Strategy and Planning at PHD Melbourne

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