How (and When) to Measure ROI in Real Time

Q&A With Zenith Optimedia North America CEO Tim Jones

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Whatever you measure when you track return on investment, the results can come faster than ever, Zenith Optimedia North America CEO Tim Jones says in this week's Q&A with a media leader. But not every campaign needs daily tracking.

Tim Jones
Tim Jones

Advertising Age: Is return on investment always about sales? What are you looking to measure with ROI?

Tim Jones: It depends on the campaign, or you may have multiple levels of ROI. When we first launched Scion, the youth brand created by Toyota, the ROI was initially all about awareness and how do we get into a competitive and cluttered landscape. Once we achieved that , then the focus moved more toward how do we ensure we have purchase intent amongst our core group of gen Y influencers. Now, both of those are still important, but now that the car is established, we look at ROI to relate it back to sales.

Ad Age : How would you do ROI modeling for a new brand launching today?

Mr. Jones: Let's say it was a new pharma brand. We would put in place basic tracking studies so we can look at brand awareness and ad awareness. We would look at what spend levels we could get to. That this amount of money, for instance, could get us to 28% awareness and this amount to 35%, depending on the force of the creative, and the competitive spending. We can predict that and forecast that quite accurately, and we have launched a number of pharma brands, like Clarinex, on that basis.

Then we would look at the amount of search activity the campaign is generating, keyword search and volume. We could look socially with our tools to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to see what people are talking about, and what is positive and negative, and can we influence that .

When we serve ads, banners and pre-rolls we can see how people are reacting to those ads and which targets are engaging and clicking, or going to a Facebook page, or entering a sweepstakes, and we can dynamically serve different ads and adjust in real time.

Ad Age : Why is it important to measure ROI in real time?

Mr. Jones: We launched a TV commercial for H&M with David Beckham that ran in the Super Bowl. We had a team of about 10 people online monitoring social websites. We measured across the entire length of the Super Bowl the mentions to the game, touchdowns, tackles. When the ad appeared, we could see the amount of conversation that went on about that ad and the game, and the biggest social spike was on David Beckham's ad.

We interacted with tweets and responded to them. We could see brand favorability had risen, and visits to the website had risen.

Ad Age : Should every campaign be measured in real time?

Mr. Jones: The shorter the window the more important it is . Think about movie studios and a release window, and they do daily tracking because they have one chance to launch this product. With real time, if you learn women aren't responding, for example, you can version some new creative to better reach women. But there are other brands where if you believe your positioning and messaging is right long term, then you have to have the belief to stay with it even if you might not see an immediate uptick.

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