Why Reach Doesn't Rule in Era of Moneyball Marketing

Ignore Common Metrics in Favor of More Esoteric Stats

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The conventional wisdom on Madison Avenue is that reach rules. In the digital realm, you can't go wrong making a buy or launching a campaign on a site with scale. However, that's going to change as money flows online, competition rises and marketers find they need to pay more to drive sales.

To cope, advertisers should adopt a digital-media-planning model that ignores common metrics (unique visitors, page views and even time spent) in favor of more esoteric statistics such as cost per action. We're entering the Moneyball Marketing era -- an age when some big online properties will suffer slow deaths by a thousand cuts from tiny niche sites that deliver greater ROI.
Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.

Moneyball Marketing liberally borrows the concepts outlined in Michael Lewis' 2003 best-selling baseball book, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game." Lewis chronicles how the Oakland A's and General Manager Billy Beane were able to build a successful team in a rather unconventional way -- and with a relatively meager budget.

Mr. Beane and his team eschewed the conventional wisdom that had dominated baseball for decades. Rather than evaluating players based on common statistics such as home runs and runs batted in, the A's favored on-base percentage (how often a batter gets on base) and slugging percentage (which measures a hitter's power). The result was an elegant, efficient model that enabled the A's get better players for less money.

Here are three ways you can apply Moneyball Marketing.


Look beyond the common methods for evaluating media and identify more-meaningful statistics. For example, make a buy based on a site's ability to drive consumers to complete high-value tasks.


As hard as it is, try forgoing some of the larger sites in favor of emerging niche sites that deliver a higher percentage of your target.


Consider launching programs that allow you to hone your relationships with narrow segments of your audience. Go beyond impressions.
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