Why savvy marketers are shifting their focus from metrics
Marketers who can measure outcomes, and not just clicks, are well placed to meet the demand for more business-driven KPIs in campaigns.
No brand has ever put money into campaigns without ultimately expecting to see a lift in sales. In the past year, though, as consumer spending and attention have moved online at pace and marketing budgets have been cut, brands are leaning more heavily on campaigns that perform against clearly measurable outcomes.
Branding has not been forgotten but, according to Stacey Delaney, UK country manager at Taboola, there has been a clear shift towards campaigns that maximise business goals such as sales. As part of a panel discussion at the Festival of Marketing, she argued that “many marketers [have decided] to move away from strategies that maximise frequency and reach in favour of an outcomes-based approach, going beyond softer metrics to ones that drive impact and influence to the top and the bottom line”.
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She gave the example of a radio advert that started out with a branding brief, but it was clear the campaign was ultimately looking to deliver traffic to the client’s site and therefore that was the outcome that needed to be measured.
This renewed focus on additional business-driven outcomes provides an opportunity for marketing and advertising partners to help clients and agencies go beyond measuring clicks. Sebastien Bourne, head of biddable at PHD, added that ad tech partners ideally need to enable the agencies and the partners they work with to measure and understand the impact of the outcomes a campaign delivers.
“With a click-based strategy, you're probably looking at metrics like clickthrough rate, share of voice. And if you're going to an outcomes-based strategy, you need to be able to track that end goal, that end outcome.
“Technology… is key in today's marketplace. How do you activate and optimise all of these channels together? It's no longer possible to do it manually. You need tech to be able to do it.”
To help marketers seize this opportunity, especially in the challenging context of the pandemic, MediaCom global account director Fou Brown said technology partners need to avoid the “one-size-fits-most” approach that often prevails. She acknowledged that those she works with have been highly proactive and responsive to clients’ needs during the hardships of the past year – particularly in the travel industry, for example – but added that they need to focus on precision offerings and delivering against the key elements of a client’s brief, to offer the most effective support.
“It’s better to play to your strengths,” she advised technology companies. “You've got one shot to show your worth. It's better to play towards [achieving outcomes] in the countries, formats and, in some cases, platforms where you know you are going to do a great job against the brief. Just focus on delivering that part of it. Focus on an outcome that you can deliver within the funnel; you don't have to do everything.”
The most important aspect of preparing for outcomes-based marketing is for clients, agencies and tech partners to collectively decide what is being measured, which metrics are in play and where they can be discovered.
“You've got to have that single source of truth,” Bolsom concluded. “Taking a step back, looking at the whole picture across the whole funnel, one thing that really helps as well is having marketing mix modelling, so that we can start to understand, after a certain period of time, the real ROI of each channel in terms of fuelling the overall sales and helping to deliver our overall strategy.”
As the panel agreed, outcomes-based marketing is not new but it has risen to the forefront in the past year as brands have needed a business-driven metric, such as sales, to validate spending on campaigns in a time of financial restraint.
The message was that this not only creates an opportunity for digital marketers to show they can deliver on outcomes-driven campaigns but also for advertising partners to support their brand and agency clients in measuring campaign performance and aiding attribution so ROI can be determined. Today’s client-agency relationship needs focus and precision on each campaign’s outcomes.■
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For Julie Bolsom, acting head of live planning at Mindshare, this is evident in the way agencies are now being increasingly asked, and are tasking themselves, to think beyond counting clicks and focus on metrics that are aligned with the campaign objective.
“You have to look through the brief and work from back to front, and look at what they are ultimately trying to achieve,” she explained.
“Overall, it's not just about those media metrics that we can actually collect in-campaign; it's about choosing the right metrics, ensuring they ladder up to our ultimate business goal. And it's really important that we understand what the client is actually trying to get out of that, and to be able to deliver properly.”
Mindshare's Julie Bolsom on outcomes-based campaigns