The effectiveness industry is in a crisis! Or is it?

Apparently, the effectiveness industry is in a crisis. In a recent blog post for MediaTel, Dominic Mills argues that the evidence supposedly meant to measure ad effectiveness is just too feeble to truly work. Backed up by key individuals within the industry, he points to a number of issues that broadly cover:

  1. a lack of understanding on the right metrics to measure
  2. a tendency to opt for the easy route by tracking
  3. overvaluing the channels that can be measured and too much focus on the short-term

Mills believes that digital is the root cause of all issues, leading us to feel as if we are drowning in data that is very short term and hard to integrate with the measurement of other media. In addition, the growth in walled gardens is making multi-platform, multi-media campaign measurement more difficult.

The first thought from reading the article is that the effectiveness industry as a whole needs to finally accept the ever-evolving world we now live in. We can’t turn back time to the days of 2 TV channels. There is not one definitive answer any more; it is too idealistic to expect that one measurement technique can cover all the different media and response channels. The ultimate goal is still the same as it always has been. Our aim is to get as many consumers as possible to buy our stuff and to keep buying it. As Alex Steer points out in the Newswork Effectiveness forum, human behaviour is largely consistent over time. What has changed is the way we can reach and engage with consumers. 

The central approach to this is how we define success for that brand, and how that definition differs over time (tomorrow, next week, next month).

This is all about making sure measurement is not seen as an after-thought. Data-led planning measured against reaching predetermined outcomes inherently needs success criteria to evaluate whether it worked. The effectiveness industry therefore needs to be involved in these up-front conversations to set viable benchmarks and help create a relevant measurement framework. This must take into account the potential interactions between different media and response, versus the agreed outcomes, accounting for the right measurement techniques.

This probably won’t be enough to combat short-termism. I’m not convinced we will ever be able to fully alleviate a client’s fear surrounding a multi-million pound product launch but a well communicated & agreed plan as to how, when & with what we evaluate success will definitely help.

Our approach to these walled gardens also needs to change. It’s only natural we feel threatened by these global behemoths who hold so much rich data but in reality we need to see these companies as an opportunity. We not only offer neutrality, but our role is to bring these disparate insights under a measurement umbrella to create a compelling narrative for our clients. Yes, we might lose some involvement surrounding the modelling & tech, but that shouldn’t diminish the importance of our all-seeing objective role. 

Is the effectiveness industry in crisis? Absolutely not. Effectiveness is evolving and developing with the rest of the media industry. By rolling with the changes and understanding that a ‘one size fits all approach’ won’t work, we will continue to deliver strong insights on the effectiveness of the marketing investment for our clients. We need to think of communications measurement as a framework. We need to measure each channel on its own merit and in the right context.

To read Dominics viewpoint, click here