Many companies spend a large portion of their annual budget on marketing and advertising. And for good reason! An effective marketing and media campaign can increase a brand’s visibility, consumer awareness and dare I say, sales! However, it’s an entirely different story determining the success of the campaign, unless it’s an immediate call to action or a specific offer.
As the owner of a media buying agency, I know firsthand how challenging the task of spending “enough” is compare to “too much” and then justify the results of the spend. One common problem is when clients are unable to generate specific sales data and goal expectations prior to the campaign launching. To be able to determine if their investment was well spent, first and foremost the information must be solid, there needs to be ample data and their goals need to be realistic. The information should not be circumstantial or hypothetical. It should be as solid as rock, when possible. Otherwise, success will be measured by the client’s opinion, rather than cold hard facts.
To understand marketing and media objectives, a company first needs to determine the reason and purpose of the campaign and clearly convey them along with the set goals to its agency from the beginning. This allows the agency to determine if the goals are reachable and exactly what media elements are needed and to what degree.
There are several reasons to advertise. One of these may be to build the company persona, a second could be to highlight a specific brand and increase its sales. The first key to success in this realm is increasing the company’s reach. Reach is the number of people in a specific targeted demo who are exposed to a company’s message. But there are different reach numbers, potential reach, average reach, and actual reach.
For example: If an ad runs on TV, you’ll find all three. The ratings are the proposed reach. However, since we all know that not everyone stays around to watch the commercials (except possibly in the case of the Superbowl), the actual reach will be lower than the proposed reach.
Then there’s frequency. A brand typically doesn’t want the potential audience to only see the commercial once, so more commercials are purchased. But once again there is potential frequency and average frequency. Some consumers will never see a single ad, others will see them a few times and the final group may see them too many times. So average frequency is the factor we use to measure things. Combined you achieve the average reach and frequency.
Another reason a company advertises is to increase sales. In this case, the first question would be: By how much? If sales numbers are provided and the goal is feasible an agency should be able to strategize the necessary mediums and amounts of media necessary to meet the objective. If it is unobtainable, or unrealistic an agency needs to speak up and be candid with the client or in the end, the client is disappointed, and the agency is looking for a new client.
Say what you will, but the bottom-line is advertising and media is meant to increase sales and thus increase a company’s profits. All creative needs to be engaging and all media needs to be strategically placed in the proper areas and in the right amounts. During the campaign and even after its conclusion for a reasonable amount of time, the effectiveness can be measured by the sales lift.
Even if the sales comparison information is available, it can be hard to measure which portion of the sales is a direct result of that specific advertising, unless the sales strategy is framed up in such a way that isolation of the media results is obtainable. If other initiatives are running exactly at the same time, they too could be impacting sales. Even when the competition makes an adjustment to their strategy during your flight, that too can alter the sales results. So, it’s difficult but not impossible to isolate ad success, but some mediums are harder to measure than others, especially if it’s not e-commerce.
The moral of this story is that successful marketing and advertising is only part of a process. Having solid data and an isolated strategy when possible is key in measuring the effectiveness of the advertising efforts against the goals. There are many sources of data and platforms to assist with this but not all data is equal. Remember junk in means junk out! In addition to utilizing good data, sometimes you must also rely on knowledge, experience, and instinct.