Advertising Without Measurement is Dead

by Moses Foster, President & CEO, West Cary Group

Long before opening West Cary Group – a full-service marketing, communications and advertising agency – I started in the business as a direct marketer. So you may consider me biased.

But I believe that advertising without measurement is finished. Dead. Over. Done.

Why? Because I think our industry will ultimately place such a premium on precision and efficiency that any full-service shop that can’t deliver won’t survive. And neither precision nor efficiency can be accomplished without measurement.

I believe that one of the most exciting and elegant trends in advertising over the past seven years has been the synthesis of data and measurement with the instinctual, random-access decisions we make as designers, writers, strategists, planners and sometimes architects of popular culture. Today data can help us in almost every aspect of the advertising process. We would be fools not to use all of the tools at our disposal to accomplish the goals and objectives our clients pay us well for.

Here are two examples of how measurement powers our performance:

We Found the Breakthrough We Needed in Media

There was a time when our agency didn’t think we had anything unique to offer our clients in terms of media. Now we feel that media is a competitive advantage – because precision and measurement are beginning to rule the day.

In the old media paradigm, we would identify our target audience. Profile them. Find out what blogs and magazines they read. Which series they watched on television or through full-episode players. What terrestrial radio or streaming services they listened to. And we’d hope that among all of the wrong people we touched, we’d reach some of the right ones, as well. That was OK, because it was the way most everyone did it. But as an agency, we want to focus on driving superior results with our unique skills and capabilities – not mediocre ones.

Then came the rise of programmatic media buying, and we saw that this was the breakthrough we needed in media. We quickly built a trading desk by forming a partnership with a world-class partner in MediaMath…and suddenly we had something to talk about. Now, instead of predetermining our target audience with generic profiles (and, to a certain extent, guesswork) we send out signals to the universe and watch closely to see who raises their hand in interest. The universe produces our pool of prospects, or “target audience.” And remember what I said earlier about precision and efficiency? We know from measurement that this audience will be more interested, responsive and engaged with our advertising than the target audience we would have constructed on our own. In fact, because we like to measure everything, we have the data to prove it.

Measurement Takes Good Results to Great

An advertising program is never truly complete. That’s because performance is determined by so many variables – like rapidly changing media consumption habits, the competition’s position and product mix, a client’s own product innovation, and creative execution.

Our agency is as focused on the client’s testing agenda as we are with the next big advertising campaign. While the main program is in rollout, we’re busy at work orchestrating a series of small tests that tweak, modify, optimize, and refine our messaging and creative strategy with respect to the aforementioned variables, in order to find the next frame-breaking insight that will drive even more powerful outcomes from our campaign.

And with data coming from every possible direction – Web, phone, mobile, email, social media – there are endless opportunities to measure, analyze and positively inform campaigns so that we can deliver continuously improving performance for our clients.

The Moral of the Story

In the spirit of my thesis, I’ll offer some data and measurement to validate my point. The 2014 Agency-Marketer New Business Report from RSW/US asked marketers to define the biggest deficiencies they’ve found in the agencies vying for their business. The number-one answer? Lack of foundation in analytics.

The days of creating winning advertising campaigns purely through beautiful creative are done. And it’s a shame. Those were fun times.

Of course, great creative is still an absolute must for successful campaigns. But just as important is a rigorous undergirding of data, measurement and analysis. Without the integration of the two, quite simply, you’re leaving your clients’ money on the table.

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