For too long companies have been spending vast budgets on advertising campaigns that are measured poorly at best. The question you as an advertiser should be asking and what some of my smarter clients have been asking is
Where is my advertising effective and why?
To me as a consultant in the analytics industry this is the biggest opportunity we have to show our value.
The clients I am working with are asking smarter questions now. Questions like “can you tell us how to measure what works in both on and offline advertising? Can you tell us if it’s worth using print or TV or should we just spend on Google? Is direct marketing or telesales worth the effort?” The media attribution question has never been more important than it is now.
The Media Attribution Question
An example of attribution in online marketing is when we’re talking about conversion or engagement as a measure of success that search engine marketing is much more effective than banner advertising. They point out that costs per click are much lower, that cost per acquisition is much lower, that click through and conversion rates are much higher and that visibility in Google is far more important than paying a fortune to get on CNN.com.
In many cases speaking from experience this is very true. However in most cases Search Engine marketing relies on the fact that the product or service category is already known to the potential marketplace. The attribution question is when does the banner on CNN lead to a search that results in a sale? Or TV or Print for that matter because as much as we love online most life happens in the real world!
The answer lies in the fact that search is a different type of media to display advertising and as different mediums should be measured differently.
The 3 types of Media
There are in my view only 3 categories of media upon which you may advertise today and they are attention media, intention media and social media.
Attention media is designed to attract the attention of the audience. It is not designed to sell the prospect immediately rather it is used to generate awareness of a particular product, service usually via a campaign of some nature. Typical examples include TV advertising, Newspaper print ads, email or direct mail awareness mailshots, visual display ads such as online video ads or banner ads on popular media websites.
Intention media is designed to be utilized after the attention has been raised. It is designed to react to a specific need that has already been generated by awareness marketing. Typical examples of this kind of media is keyword marketing (SEO/SEM) when a prospect enters a keyword about an item or service they already know about through either social media or other ads designed to attract attention. Direct marketing (catalogs) is another form of intention media as are email campaigns around already known services and products.
Social media is a specific kind of media utilized after the attention has been raised. It is usually virally spread via word of mouth via various on or offline channels. Typical example of a product based social media campaign is a Facebook application spread virally for commercial advertising purposes.
Conversion or engagement attribution (depending on the goals and KPIs of your campaigns – you do have goals and KPIs don’t you?) depends greatly on the lifecycle of the product or service and how you’re running your campaign. It’s rare that one doesn’t effect the other in some way. Attention media should start first followed by intention media. Social media is special because it can be either attention grabbing advertising (the viral release of a new facebook app designed to direct you to a campaign website) or could be instill conversions due to viral word of mouth (facebook friends talking about a new service).
Smart use of this knowledge
The smart advertisers will therefore start measuring this and start designing their campaigns around this kind of model. The key to success might be using Attention media to drive awareness and design display ads that are easily remembered (on search engines for instance). For instance you could do something like the Adidas campaign which has a subject that is easily remembered (Impossible is nothing). You would then make sure you understand the relation between the attention driving activities (the display ads, video ads, TV & print launch dates) and the lift in searches or direct accesses to websites which come as a result.
This is the branding effect that can be measured by the analytics tools. By using a great slogan you can see directly attributable lift and therefore understand what really worked, the TV ad or the search engine.
By logging the results of campaigns over time you can start to truly measure return on advertising spend as well as measure your branding efforts. Web Analytics and advertising auditing can help you to do this. Once you can determine when and where to use attention media, intention media and maximize the results of the advertising you’re doing then you can tell your media agency what you want, not be forced to be spoon fed the lines by big agencies intent on spending your budgets to earn their commissions.
This should of course be the second part of your strategy. The first part is preparing your campaign or website so that it is maximized for conversion. That way the traffic that does see your content buys into it and you get more value for your money.