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May 26, 2021

Are You Tracking Metrics That Matter?

What are the key things to look for when trying to determine if the most important data is being shared in relation to your media spend?

By Kelly Maguire

What are the key things to look for when trying to determine if the most important data is being shared in relation to your media spend?

Reporting is the first line of defense and the first area to find campaign shortcomings that may exist. Reporting should be a mechanism for an agency to convey more than just numbers. Data and analytics should serve as a vehicle to help connect the dots for clients. Campaign data should help explain not only what is happening, but why it is happening and the plan of action to react to it accordingly.

It’s about business outcomes not just media metrics

Beyond simply looking at data, analytics and reporting should provide insights and takeaways that connect back to whatever the goals and objectives of a campaign are. Those goals and objectives should be tied to the impact the campaign has on the target audience and the actions they take after exposure, NOT just media objectives.

It’s a red flag if there’s more of a focus on spending the dollars and showing metrics around where the media dollars were spent, than showing the tangible influence of the media dollars that were spent. For example, if reports are overly focused on media delivery metrics or easily manipulated metrics like CPM, CPC, CTR, with little focus on business-oriented outcomes or actionable insights like audiences, data, inventory, and other meaningful components, that is a huge red flag.

Business metrics that show actions consumers are taking should be heavily layered into reporting. Metrics like sales, CPA, offline actions, traffic trends, new vs returning users, etc. The key is looking at how media is tangibly influencing behaviors to justify the value of the investment.

In the absence of a focus on tangible business metrics, the focus can tend to be more on “taking credit” than creating influence. This means that a campaign is more interested in serving as many ads to as many people as possible so that if consumers take an action, the campaign can take credit. The problem with this is that campaigns can simply piggyback off momentum instead of helping to create it.

Simple media metrics are extremely easy to manipulate and inflate. No shortage exists for easy to secure sources of low CPC, high CTR, low CPM inventory that looks great on paper but creates little to no real value in the market or to a client’s business. As long as the inventory makes it through basic checks and balances during campaign setup that may rely heavily on machine learning, the money can be wasted quickly. You need a knowledgeable team that is making decisions around campaign setup, tracking and implementation that clearly tie spend back to business objectives.

CPC, CTR and CPM metrics can be easily manipulated—measure metrics that matter

We have seen many clients who have suffered from poor campaign setup and misleading reporting practices and were completely unaware of any issues due to the rosy picture painted. We’ve seen clients where previous agencies created and showcased case studies about their work with a client, touting the “incredible” media results achieved, only to conduct an audit and find that for all the “amazing” media results, the business was flat or even down.

We’ve commonly seen clients who were led to believe that impressions, clicks, and engagement were the end all be all. Only to dive deeper and find that data opportunities exist that allow for sales match-back that ties media exposure to retailer sales data to truly validate performance.

We’ve also unfortunately seen clients with agencies that wasted 7 figure budgets bidding on search terms focused on keywords where the client already owned the top organic spots. There was no competition in paid, but the agency wanted to “take credit” for existing activity because it looked better on paper.

We’ve assisted clients who had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in CRM systems. Once going under the hood, we found just a fraction of the capabilities were ever utilized with their agency taking no steps to engage with the system. In other cases, significant investment had been made in Data Management Platforms only to talk to reps at those companies to discover that they had never been contacted by the previous agency.

Know the rationale behind your media investment

These are all instances where the focus on spending media budgets blinded everyone to the meaningful rationale behind investing media budgets. The focus became creating positive perceptions over creating positive results. All energy and time were spent on campaign execution, usually applying cookie-cutter strategies rather than thinking about the individual needs of the client, their unique business, and the nuance that might make the difference for them. It’s a one size fits all approach and the people working on the campaign typically have tunnel vision for their channel or tactic and the bigger picture gets lost.

The worst part is the agency who should know better and whose responsibility is to “guide” their clients, failed to do right by them either due to their own lack of knowledge, lack of resources, or a blatant choice to not prioritize data and accountability. In every instance, the client was either completely unaware of the issues and only discovered after enough time passed for them to conduct a review or in the worst cases believed wholeheartedly that the “best” work was already being done because they were intentionally led to believe so.

Three questions to ask yourself:

  1. Have you been focusing on media ‘delivery’ metrics over business metrics with your media campaigns?
  2. What measures are in place that can identify and track business metrics back to media delivery?
  3. How do you know the very best work is being done?

The key takeaway:

Look well past media reporting and delivery metrics that can falsely take credit for metrics that don’t really matter in the end. Spend more time looking into what numbers and data actually showcase trackable influence that ultimately impacts sales. Make sure your team is investing in influencing real returns, not media automation scale and efficiency.

For an unbiased, objective audit of your current or previous campaign performance; reach out. We find errors or inefficient use of media dollars easily over 50% of the time. Get in touch.

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