I just attended a media conference. And I was shocked to realize that the digital industry is still stuck in the old accountability paradigm. Our standard ROI measure is still the difference between the cost of the campaign and the cost of reaching the same number of people in more conventional media.
That is not return on investment. It’s the kind of measurement that lead us almost to the financial abyss.
It’s silly accounting, just like the CDO’s, the derivatives and the other financial instruments that almost turned our economy into a barter society. The only metric that should count is the incremental profit that your marketing executions generated for your business.
Instead, we focus on silliness like click throughs, cost per impression, cost per action, page views, unique views, engagement rates.
It seems to be a real challenge for marketer to measure incremental profit. Or, maybe they just focus on the wrong metric, on things that make no sense but can be aggregated fairly quickly.
I know, it’s hard to measure incremental profit. But it’s only the admission ticket to the big boy table, to talk business to the CEO. And not bright, shiny objects with the Marketing Manager.
Blame the addiction to accountability.
Accountability sounds great, doesn’t it? You can explain each penny you invested for your client, you can show wise use of the budget and explain what happened with all his money. It’s also a good way to show the client that you’re so much better in investing money compared to the other, wasteful agencies. The sad truth is that what you measure makes no difference. You’re just measuring efficiency, not the impact of advertising. That’s why we’re in this spiral of cheaper and quicker and more efficient. The race to the bottom, the race to the be the next forgettable commodity.
I’ve never met a CEO who cares how you spent his money.
They care if marketing has an impact on the bottom line. Did it make the business more profitable? Did it grow the business? Digital Marketing needs to get out of that hole (we all dug ourselves) to focus on efficiency. It’s about impact.
Here’s a question for you: Would you rather have no money wasted, deploy the most efficient campaign but have little impact? Or, would you rather waste 90% of your money, but the remaining 10% grow your overall business by 20%?
Nobody says you should waste a dime. But the addiction to accountability creates silly communication vehicles (ahem….Zynga) and burns so much money for clients, it’ s tragic. We develop brand fluff on all these social platforms and pointless display ads to make it even worse. Highly measurable, Excel spreadsheet adoptable and totally useless.
If you think that’s okay, keep on trucking. But, don’t expect anyone to take you seriously for one second. The real game is in changing the future of a brand, improving the balance sheet of a company. For that, we need a measurement intervention.