June 26, 2021

By Jason Tate, Head of Global Analytic Programs

Measurement has long been a critical aspect of efficient marketing practices. That said, marketing technology hasn’t always been as rich in its capabilities as it is today. But as martech has improved over the years, engagement with media has grown increasingly more fragmented, elevating the challenges marketers have in proving the returns on their investments (ROI).

No matter the size of a company, the proliferation of new consumer platforms and devices amplifies a shared pain point among brands of all sizes: cross-channel measurement. In fact, the recent Nielsen Annual Marketing Report found that only 20% of marketers in the U.S. are confident in their ability to measure the impact of their ROI. We know, however, that the challenge is not limited to one country. It’s universal.

Much of the upside for global advertisers and publishers is outside of the U.S. The expansion across international markets presents a notable opportunity which highlights other questions, such as where to invest and what types of investments should marketers be looking at. These are important considerations, largely because marketers can easily go astray by enlisting the help of tools or vendors that are not located in the markets where the ad strategy is being executed. So they may be unfamiliar with the local media market and general sales dynamic. It’s also not uncommon for marketers to use different tools and platforms for different aspects of their marketing efforts, and quite often, they don’t work well together.

It might sound basic if you say it aloud, but it really is important to have a solution designed for the modern digital marketer. When we think about the key needs of marketers today, we can really boil it down to three things: agility, granularity and coverage.

Agility

Marketers and brands have always been expected to be agile and adjust as the market and consumers demand. But nothing can prepare a brand for a pandemic that essentially uppends every aspect of daily life for more than a year. When you add the increasing complexity of the media landscape to the equation, the need to be agile is extreme—and so are the ramifications if you don’t keep pace.

The call to marketers is amplifying, with an increasing focus on adapting marketing investments and decisions (in between planning cycles) to changing market dynamics, an evolving competitor landscape and what now seems like daily behavioral changes among consumers amid a very disruptive time in modern history.  In this regard, “agility” is synonymous with the essential need for real-time, speedy access to analytics that facilitate decision making.

Importantly, this is just as important for large brands as it is for smaller ones. Large companies, particularly the ones with household names and recognizable logos, have greater resources than smaller ones. That doesn’t mean, however, that they always prioritize and allocate their spending efficiently or pivot when they need to in order to capitalize on a new trend. In fact, traditionally, it was much harder for larger brands to be agile due-to locked in and rigid media planning.

That said, we have seen that large companies have grown increasingly nimble in recent years, allowing them to react more quickly to changing market demands and consumer preferences. By incorporating agile marketing principles and investing in modern marketing technologies, they’re conquering inefficiencies and reacting dynamically.

Granularity

There was a time when ‘male’ and ‘female’ were the foundational parameters that marketers used to reach, engage and connect with consumers. Today, big data, addressable media and targeting capabilities are helping marketers to transform yesterday’s generic marketing engagements into authentic, personalized exchanges with real people.

Personalization is the new holy grail for marketers and advertisers, and the key to fulfilling that next step in marketing advancement is granular data and the ability to optimize it at a tactical level at scale in real time. That means marketers need to adapt and hire the skills needed to operate at this pace in order to stay ahead competitively.  

Coverage

With the tools and technologies we have today, there is no room for gut instincts and snap judgements when it comes to marketing decisions. Data-driven decisions are the way forward, and marketers need to be able to make them across devices, platforms and channels throughout the entire customer journey. The days of using one tool for one task and another for a different task and then trying to marry the two outputs to arrive at a uniform answer are over—and it is for the better.

The customer journey starts well before the point at which someone makes an actual purchase. Understanding what happens on the steps leading up to that purchase is critical insight. This is important. Our Annual Marketing Report found that brands of all sizes rank customer acquisition as their top marketing objective, respondents in our survey said they only planned to increase their marketing spend on a few select channels rather than focus on holistic experiences for consumers. Brands should always be thinking about all steps in the consumer journey—and invest in them.

And given the heightened focus on ROI, marketers need to measure all of the channels they allocate funding to, no matter how small the allocation. And from there, it’s critical that marketers understand the implications of their spending across channels—and in like-for-like terms. For example, a marketer will need to understand how $1 spent on linear TV compares with $1 spent on Google, Facebook, CTV and every other possible platform and outlet they might leverage. Engagement, returns and opportunity are critical, and data will always provide the right path forward—but the data has to be comparable.

Having an agile solution, focused on granular insights, across all channels in the consumer journey has become table stakes for the modern digital marketer, and savvy marketers are not compromising on any facet. In fact, the savviest marketers are doubling-down to focus on ROI prediction that is, you guessed it, agile, granular and across the entirety of channels in the consumer journey. These marketers are using these paradigms in order to facilitate the next evolution in the use of marketing measurement: outcomes-based media planning.

 

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