Council Post: Generate Marketing Impact, Not Only Impressions

Council Post: Generate Marketing Impact, Not Only Impressions

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If you ask any marketer these days about their No. 1 priority for their media plan, I would bet that most will tell you it is to maximize overall campaign reach, opportunity to see (OTS), online impressions or number of fans and followers. In theory, those key performance indicators (KPIs) are all important, but in practice, they are mostly vanity numbers that are not doing any favors for your company’s business results.

Does anyone really think that the number of likes on your social media post can provide you with meaningful insights about your customers or their level of engagement with your brand? Can it influence them to purchase your products? At best, the number of likes on your last post will tell you that you posted at a good time of day or that the photo is compelling to a great audience. But to truly impact the performance of your brand, you have to look beyond the big number game.

There’s a constant need for immediate gratification that is stopping us from exploring “valuable metrics” — instead, using “vanity metrics.” We all have a continuous need to extract figures that make us feel better (and help us in our careers), but we often do not ask ourselves if those figures correctly reflect reality.

This ignorance has become visible especially in the field of digital advertising and social media marketing, with many marketing managers, slowly but surely, starting to realize that most of their online brand impressions (and advertising dollars) did not reach customers at all. Even well-trained marketers at some of the world’s biggest companies have fallen for this trap, as Marc Pritchard of P&G recently admitted: “We serve ads to consumers through a non-transparent media supply chain with spotty compliance to common standards, unreliable measurement, hidden rebates and new inventions like bot and methbot fraud.”

(Full disclosure: P&G is a client of TERRITORY Influence.)

I believe another reason marketers behave this way is because of their latest obsession with mental availability, driven by some of the notions in Byron Sharp’s book, How Brands Grow, and the conclusion that you can drive mental availability by simply pushing advertising to as many people as often as possible. Hence, some marketers and agencies these days purely focus on advertising reach instead of also looking at the relevancy of their brand strategies and messages.

In my opinion, these types of ads have the opposite effect. I find that consumers are getting more and more annoyed with all the irrelevant push advertising. So, instead of building mental availability, this type of untargeted and irrelevant advertising may, in fact, boost ad-blocker usage and push consumers farther away from traditional media.

It’s not impressions that marketers should be focusing on — it’s impact.

Reality goes beyond impressions, and to measure the real impact of media spending, companies urgently need to introduce relevant measurements of marketing activities. The media landscape is hypersegmented, and to be relevant, we need to offer impact with the right message, at the right moment and, of course, to the right customer.

It has become clear over the past few years that the old ways of measuring the performance of one’s marketing mix are not providing us with the right information anymore. To understand the relevance of our communication, as well as the reach we generated, we need to start looking at the impact we have on consumers’ behaviors and actions.

To really understand how online impressions and advertising activities are impacting customers’ behaviors towards your brand, it ultimately boils down to measuring store-level sales data. Measuring your offline sales uplift can provide a more precise understanding of your media campaign’s impact on shoppers’ purchase behavior.

With the right data collected and analyzed, marketers can leverage these deeper insights and make real-time improvements to a campaign. And tying together viewing behavior and purchase behavior effectively can improve your return on advertising spend (ROAS).

To summarize, it is not sufficient anymore to have big media budgets. It is much more important to have the right marketing strategy in place to understand and engage with your target consumer. We must understand that customers must come first in our marketing strategies, and if we truly understand their needs, we’ll be able to reach and impact them with relevant and influential content that will spread further through word of mouth and social media, resulting in even greater impact.

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.
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This content was originally published here.

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